Going against the grain of his cohorts, former New York Jets general manager-turned-NFL analyst Mike Tannenbaum recently singled out the Cowboys as the biggest conference “threat” to Tom Brady and company, whom they’ll meet in the regular-season opener — and again in late January, predicted Tannenbaum.
“They’re going to win the division, and they are the biggest threat in the NFC to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers,” he said on ESPN’s Get Up. “They’re going to be a top-five offense; they’re going to get back three offensive linemen. I think Dan Quinn is going to make a massive impact on the defensive side of the ball. I think Dak Prescott is going to be a top-five quarterback. I expect this team to compete against Tampa Bay in the NFC Championship Game.”
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Series History & Game Prediction
Suffice to say, Dallas hasn’t lost many head-to-heads with Tampa Bay over the years, currently holding a 15-4 all-time series lead versus the Bucs — winners of seven of the last eight showdowns.
Though, to Tannenbaum’s point about the Cowboys challenging the champs’ supremacy … oddsmakers don’t necessarily agree, installing Mike McCarthy’s bunch as 6.5-point underdogs for the Week 1 clash at Raymond James Stadium. The media isn’t buying the optimism, either.
“‘America’s Team’ comes to town, giving the Bucs a chance to begin their Super Bowl defense with a home win over the league’s most recognizable brand, and in front of a national audience,” USA Today’s Luke Easterling wrote in June. “Dak Prescott is expected to make his return from last year’s season-ending injury, and facing arguably the best defense in the NFL will be quite the task.
“Prescott has the weapons to test Tampa Bay, and he’ll have to if he wants to hang with Tom Brady, who will get to face a Cowboys defense that struggled mightily in 2020. The Bucs are the more complete team, and they get enough defensive stops to start the year with a fairly comfortable win.”
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Dallas Predicted to Win NFCE
It isn’t just Tannenbaum who’s high on the 2021 Cowboys’ prospects, particularly with returning franchise quarterback Dak Prescott. Bleacher Report’s Brent Sobleski picked the silver and blue to topple the Washington Football Team — as well as fend off competition from the New York Giants — and reclaim the NFC East crown this fall.
“Dak Prescott’s return to the lineup alone makes the Cowboys better than any other NFC East squad,” Sobleski wrote. “Dallas’ defense does need to be better, but the organization spent its first six draft picks on that side of the ball. Besides, the Cowboys offense is explosive enough to win the division by itself.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL