The longest months of the year now come to an end.
For the Cowboy Nation, having Jerry Jones’ team on the main stage is no surprise, even though since the 2002 season, when these kickoffs were inaugurated on Thursday, it is customary to have, in general, the current champion and runner-up. champion as part of this stellar game in order to distinguish the best in the league.
In this case, the Cowboys ‘2020 mark seems irrelevant compared to a prelude where Bruce Arians’ pupils arrive as wide favorites, by eight (8) points inclusive, and are measured against Cowboys who seek to resurface in all departments under a persistent “fog” that afflicted them during the preseason.
The blue-silver drama never sleeps.
The members of the pirate caravel presume the return of their 22 titular crew members, something unbelievable in this era of player movements, especially teams whose success culminated in raising, in their own Raymond James Stadium in fact, the Vince Lombardi trophy as champion with his 31-9 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs. Arians’ efforts along with his general manager Jason Licht deserve real fanfare as they determine to find a way to achieve their long-awaited continuity.
Tom Brady arrives after seeing action in the preseason, his offensive line is still intact and the defense put together by defensive coordinator Todd Bowles looks like a true madman heading into this anticipated game. On the Cowboys’ side, Dak Prescott will see his first action since week five of 2020 and will depend a lot on the highly anticipated debut of Dan Quinn’s defense that can be so worrying to the host team.
Much to digest, and with this table served, I pass my 5 Keys to the Game.
Key 1. To the rhythm of the waves. There is no doubt that the preseason serves to establish a rhythm on the playing field, in terms of the limited performance of the starters. On the offensive side, this type of activity may or may not be vital, considering that there are times when the risk to an insignificant vital piece in play highlights the decision, for example, to seat Ezekiel Elliott, whose physique seems to be in top condition. entering its sixth season. For this opening game it will be interesting to see how Kellen Moore’s offense turns out, considering the above. There’s bound to be the idea of establishing some continuity in the running game, with Prescott stretching his legs on timed bag outs looking for screen passes with wide receivers, tight ends and running backs. If they win the initial toss, will they choose to take the ball and immediately get to work in this department? There is no doubt that the Buccaneers arrive without this anxiety of seeing their offense on the field for the first time, and the big question is whether this will affect how the visitors come out with the ball under center in their first offensive series.
Key 2. Red-hot defensive upgrades. The cowboy defense is going to improve, he has no doubt about it. Already with 2020 in the rearview mirror, the hope is that the injection of Micah Parsons, seeing Leighton Vander Esch more in his element and a Jaylon Smith without carrying the world tends to be a better panorama for this season. There is no doubt that Keanu Neal will also be elemental, and of special interest will be the projection of rookie Jabril Cox in that Achilles heel that was the coverage of both tight ends and running backs in the passing game on the wings. That coin is in the air, but what has no change is the need for Demarcus Lawrence, Randy Gregory and Dorance Armstrong to appear on the scene from the voice of now. If they don’t get to Brady, if they don’t mess him up from the start, they could end up sitting under the tree on a sad night, because even the revamped line-ups of linebackers, cornerbacks and safeties won’t be able to save them.
Key 3. Bodyguard always under the magnifying glass. The Cowboys’ ghoulish luck continues to raise its hand, and this time Zack Martin’s departure is just another chapter in the book of hexes that dampens the club’s hopes with every turn of the corner. Martin is, according to Elliott, the “best player on the team”, and not having him against the Bucs means not arriving with a full tank. Connor McGovern is talked about instead, but from there to the real, Brandon Knight and rookie Matt Farniok would be in the waiting room. On the other hand, La’el Collins continues with neck discomfort, the much-talked about “stinger” that marginalized him from practice, while reinforcement Ty Nsekhe, whose nickname is reserve right / left tackle, also brings a foot discomfort. The truth is that in the case of comparing one quintet against the other, that of the offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich arrives quite whole with the slogan of keeping his stellar offensive leader standing, while Prescott will again have to deal not only with jumping to the grass for the first time in a long time, but without the tranquility of having its wall intact.
Key 4. They don’t tell you the GOAT for nothing. The 2020 season for Tom Brady was something for Ripley himself. He left his achievements with the Bill Belichick Patriots in the past, he arrived in Tampa with a team of the lot, suddenly they were diambulating 7-5 halfway with dimes-and-diretes with Arians, they straightened up, they went as a wild card team playing as away to Washington, New Orleans and Green Bay, and for the first time in league history, they became the only team to win the Super Bowl in their own backyard. Not for something do they call it the “greatest of all time” or GOAT. Deserved without question. And for this game, well he has weapons, the same ones he had in that final stretch with the Evans, Godwin, Brown, Gronkowski, Brate, Jones, Fournette and his center Ryan Jensen leading his offensive line. If they let him work from the beginning, there is no doubt that he will make them pay, because his team at the moment has everything to win, starting with the fact that reaching him is not easy, and if he does not, intercepting him will not be either.
Key 5. What’s special. The odds in terms of total points are at 52.5, which within what fits, is not a very high number. Now, being able to stay in the game could mean taking advantage of field goal attempts, and even why not, this game could be decided with a kick in the fourth quarter. If so, the advantage is on the side of the hosts, taking into account that Ryan Succop’s continuity for the moment is better than Greg Zuerline’s. Both have been with various teams, are experienced and can kick her out of the park, but to rule out that Zuerline saw little activity is to blind herself to the possibility of a disturbance at the worst of times. Punters are also experienced people, Bradley Pinion on the one hand and Bryan Anger on the other, while punt returners and kickers will depend on the work their teammates in coverage and blocking have done in the preseason. With the odds in favor of the Buccaneers, it will be of particular interest to see if John Fassel looks for some instant imbalance by pulling something out of his hat.