Do the Dallas Cowboys have a chance against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers?
The Dallas Cowboys — and their legion of fans — sure hope so, as "America's Team" travels to take on the reigning Super Bowl champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, on Thursday.
As the defending champs, the Buccaneers are teeming with high expectations after an exciting offseason. The squad returns every starter from February's Super Bowl-winning roster, including the likes of Shaq Barrett on defense and Chris Godwin at wide receiver.
Oh, and their seemingly ageless Super Bowl MVP — 44-year-old Tom Brady — will be back under center, of course.
As for the Cowboys? Well, they need very little introduction, especially after being the focus of HBO's "Hard Knocks" series this season.
All eyes will be trained on QB Dak Prescott as he takes the field for his first dose of in-game action since a brutal leg injury ended his season in October 2020.
Prescott's recovery from ankle surgery and, more recently, a shoulder ailment kept him out of preseason play, but the 28-year-old QB said he's "definitely ready" to get back on the field, via the team's website.
Suffice it to say, the schedule-makers at the league office knew what they were doing when they pit the Cowboys against the Bucs to raise the curtain on the season.
How close will this blockbuster matchup be?
According to Chris Broussard of "First Things First," Dallas barely has any reason to show up.
Colin Cowherd had a similar gauge on Thursday's matchup, albeit not quite as unequivocal as Broussard's.
The host of "The Herd" used a college football matchup from this past weekend to help illustrate his point, likening the Buccaneers to the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Cowboys to the Miami Hurricanes.
"Man, it's just a lot of questions," Cowherd said, "and Tampa, Thursday, has got nothing but answers. If you take out Zeke [Elliott] and the running back group, Tampa is better at quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, O-line now that Zack Martin is out, D-line, linebackers, safety, corner and coaching."
For context, top-ranked Alabama blew the doors off No. 14 Miami to the tune of 44-13 on Saturday.
As Cowherd mentioned, the Cowboys will be without Martin, their All-Pro guard, due to COVID-19 protocols. The absence of the six-time Pro Bowl selection had Skip Bayless feeling awfully glum on "Undisputed."
"Of all of the Cowboys other than Dak Prescott, if you had said, ‘Pick another one that you don’t want to lose,' I'd say, ‘That guy.’ And so, when I saw this … my head just sort of hit the computer," Bayless said.
But even with the news of the Cowboys going into the game shorthanded, NFL Network's Kyle Brandt steadfastly said that a win for the Cowboys on Thursday wouldn't qualify as a major upset.
"Absolutely not," Brandt said. "Not Week 1. There's no such thing as a major upset. There's upsets but not major ones. … It could happen. I don't know if it will, but it would not be a major upset. I don't believe in [major upsets] in the first week of the season."
The oddsmakers might beg to differ on that point. According to FOX Bet, the Cowboys were the biggest Week 1 underdogs as of Monday afternoon, with the line set at Dallas +7.5 points.
Upset or otherwise, Thursday night is sure to be a spectacle, and the league wouldn't have it any other way.
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