Buccaneers vs. Cowboys: Spread Info, Line and Predictions
The Dallas Cowboys and Tampa Bay Buccaneers enter their Week 3 matchup 1-1, both trying desperately to take that next step to two wins and inch closer to playoff contention.
Dallas finally gets to play their home opener after two road games against the New York Giants and Seattle Seahawks. If you expected a 1-1 split in those games, I bet you didn't expect them to go into Meadowlands and knock off the champs while laying an egg up North in Seattle.
But that was the case for the 'Boys. While Greg Schiano's Bucs faced controversy this past week with their kneel-down technique, they've actually been playing good football the first two weeks of the season, stomping the Carolina Panthers at home and giving the Giants everything they wanted.
It's a statement game for both teams. The NFC South is wide open after the New Orleans Saints and Panthers have faltered out of the gate, and the Cowboys must rebound from their complete lack of showing up to play Seattle.
Where: Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, TX
When: Sunday, Sept. 23, at 1 p.m. ET
TV: FOX (check local listings in your area)
Listen: 620 WDAE (Tampa), 105.3 The Fan (Dallas)
Live Stream: NFL Sunday Ticket
Spread: Dallas -8 (via Bovada)
After the embarrassing loss to Seattle in which Dallas was seemingly outmatched from the opening kickoff, they have a lot to prove in Week 3.
This Tampa Bay team is no joke, and they don't lay down for anyone, as evidence by their hard-nosed decision to come after the ball on a kneel down against the Giants.
I think this game goes into a grind-it-out, tough football game pretty quickly, and I don't see Dallas stomping all over Tampa, especially after a week of listening to analysts and coaches debate the kneel down league wide.
Who wins this weekend?
Tampa covers on the road, as Dallas can't beat them by more than a touchdown.
Over/Under: 46 (via Bovada)
I'm taking the over this week. After putting up 34 on the New York Giants, Tampa Bay has shown some ability to move the chains and get the ball into the end zone.
Dallas is looking to get the seven point taste out of their mouths after only finding the end zone once against Seattle, and playing the Bucs, who gave up 41 points and over 500 yards passing to Eli Manning, will be a good place to start.
Injury Report (via CBSSports.com)
WR Miles Austin, hamstring, probable
S Barry Church, quadriceps, probable
NT Jay Ratliff, ankle, questionable
LB Sean Lee, hip, questionable
LB DeMarcus Ware, hamstring, probable
TE Jason Witten, abdomen, probable
CB E.J. Biggers, foot, probable
LB Quincy Black, back, probable
DE Adrian Clayborn, unspecified, probable
CB Eric Wright, back, probable
Fantasy Big Plays
Dallas: RB DeMarco Murray
It's time Murray had that breakout game we're all expecting he'd have by now. After a solid game against the Giants out of the backfield, he, along with the rest of the Dallas offense, laid an egg in Seattle.
Look for Jason Garrett to go to the run early and often in this one, since Dallas needs to get back to a balanced attack for their offense to click the way it did on opening night. Murray has big-play potential but hasn't found the end zone yet. I think that changes this week.
Prediction: 20 carries, 85 yards, 1 TD; 2 receptions, 23 yards
Tampa Bay: RB Doug Martin
Martin was everyone's sleeper pick in 2012, and he hasn't disappointed, from a rookie standpoint, bringing in 66 yards and a touchdown against New York.
But Dallas is allowing 132 yards per game on the ground, a number that will surely stay constant if Jay Ratliff and Sean Lee, two of Dallas' best defenders, don't take the field on Sunday.
Martin carves up the Dallas D for a nice day on the ground and puts his name in the hat for Rookie of the Year in the process.
Prediction: 23 carries, 121 yards, 2 TD
Keys to Dallas Win: Play More Physical
Dallas got outhit, outhustled and outplayed by Pete Carroll's squad in Seattle, and anyone who watched the game can't deny that.
It started at the point of attack, where the Dallas offense line took a step back in their progress, and the defensive line literally took a step back by not being able to get any pressure on run plays or on Russell Wilson in the pocket.
To beat Tampa Bay, Dallas needs to find ways to get pressure up the field, since they are confident in the secondary and still have DeMarcus Ware rushing the passer. If they can create a turnover and not get driven off the ball every snap, they have enough talent and chemistry on both sides of the ball to win.
Keys to Tampa Bay Win: Keep Romo in the Pocket
Tony Romo is one of the most effective passers in the league when he can get outside the pocket. His creativity is astounding, and it's help the Cowboys win more games than one.
But Seattle, and teams that give Dallas trouble, are able to collapse their ends upfield and force Romo to stay inside that pocket. He becomes less effective and is more prone to making a bad throw.
After looking so bad on offense against Seattle, you can bet Romo and company will be looking to get back on track quickly. If Tampa can use their front four and get to Romo without allowing him free roam, it could be a long day for Dallas.
Dallas protects home-field advantage after their owner publicly called them out this week. The maturation of Jason Garrett as a head coach shows as he gets his team ready to bounce back following the ugly loss, and Tampa Bay continues to play hard but doesn't quite have the guns late for the second consecutive week.
Predicted Final Score: Dallas 33, Tampa Bay 28
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