Insider Hints at Schedule Leak with Cowboys’ Likely First Game

Cowboys Bucs 2021

Getty The Cowboys could open the NFL season against the Buccaneers.

As is customary for the Super Bowl champs, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are expected to kick off the 2021 season on the Thursday night of Week 1, but the question is who they will square off against. The NFL will officially release the full schedule on May 12, but NBC Sports’ Peter King has a strong feeling the Bucs will play either the Cowboys or Bills to begin the season.

“Tampa Bay gets to open at home on Thursday, Sept. 9, with the 2020 champs beginning 2021 with basically the exact same roster,” King detailed. “My prediction: The foe will be either Buffalo or Dallas. Why do I say that? The NFL wants to get off to a very strong start after a shaky offseason, and they want a game that will generate buzz in the weeks before the season begins and will be must-see TV to start the season. To schedule the Saints or Bears or Giants here (all Bucs home foes this year) doesn’t seem smart because any of them could be a game that’s over by halftime.

Not so Buffalo or Dallas. The Bills could go to Tampa and win the opener, and the Cowboys, with Dak Prescott leading an explosive offense, would be able to go toe-to-toe with the Arians/Brady offense. We’ll see, but those are the two sexiest home foes for the Bucs, and I think one of them will open the NFL’s 102nd season.”

All of the Buccaneers’ 17 matchups are known, but the NFL will announce the full schedule details for the entire league on May 12. There is a case to be made for both the Cowboys or Bills games opening up the NFL season.

Cowboys vs. Bucs Is the Likely Favorite to Kickoff the Season

Given the two options, the Cowboys are the likely favorite to be the Buccaneers’ opponent to begin the season. The NFL tends to put the Cowboys in primetime as often as possible given Dallas is television ratings gold. There are also several relevant storylines within the matchup including the return of Dak Prescott from a season-ending injury.

It is hard to imagine two teams having more different seasons than how 2020 unfolded for both the Buccaneers and Cowboys. Tampa Bay was able to win a Super Bowl in Tom Brady’s first season with the team, while the Cowboys’ championship hopes essentially ended when Prescott was injured. Mike McCarthy’s team struggled in his first season as Cowboys head coach, and it will be worth watching how year two goes after an underwhelming debut in Big D.

Brady vs. Allen Would Also be Must-See TV

While it would not provide the same ratings as the Cowboys, the Bills would be an excellent football matchup as Buffalo was just one game away from squaring off against the Buccaneers in the Super Bowl. Last season, Josh Allen emerged as one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.

Given it will be the first NFL game of the season, the Buccaneers’ Week 1 matchup will have plenty of viewers regardless of their opponent. The Buccaneers made history this offseason by becoming the first championship team to return all 22 of their Super Bowl starters.

Here is a look at the Buccaneers’ 2021 opponents.

Falcons (twice)
Panthers (twice)
at Rams
at Patriots
Saints (twice)
at Jets
at Washington Football Team
at Colts