Buccaneers vs Cowboys: Eight expectations for Week one

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Mike Evans
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) Mike Evans /

With Week 1 on the horizon, here are eight expectations for the Buccaneers opener against Cowboys. Move over “predictions.” It’s all about expectations for Tampa Bay in 2021.

8) Expect the debut of RB Giovani Bernard to make a quiet splash for the Buccaneers. Gio is unlikely to cannonball onto the scene in Week 1, but he’ll certainly get his feet wet. Think 45+ combined rushing and passing yards and three quality first downs. Here’s a guy who’s here to keep the chains moving. Bernard will not disappoint.

7) Expect CB Sean Murphy-Bunting to pick up where he left off with at least 1 pick against the Cowboys’ Dak Prescott. Should the Cowboys struggle with their run game- and that is the expectation- Dak will be challenged to go pass-heavy and mistakes will be made. SMB ended last year’s Super Bowl run on the highest of notes with a pick in each of their final three games. Expect more of the same, please.

6) Expect WR Antonio Brown to shine with 75+ yards and a touchdown. The Cowboys will have their hands full with WR1 Mike Evans and WR2 Chris Godwin— both of whom will also shine!—allowing AB to remind the league that he’s still a top receiver. Meanwhile, pencil Evans in for a Week 1 tuddy and a very cool 100+ yards.

5) With that said, expect QB Tom Brady to open up with a 300+ passing yards and 3+ touchdown game that will begin paving the campaign trail for his MVP season. En route, Brady will be right on track to break the all-time passing yards record in Week 4’s matchup at New England.

4) Expect RT Tristan Wirfs to keep Tom Brady clean. In his rookie year, Wirfs was regarded by peers, analysts and fans alike as a Pro Bowl caliber Right Tackle. Expect the uber-agile powerhouse to start the year off right and to prove that last year was not a fluke. Meanwhile, expect the rest of O-line to be further inspired and to provide an encore performance of their 2020 season.

3) It’s no secret that keeping Brady upright will mean everything in 2021 for the Buccaneers. Enter TE OJ Howard. Just as Gronk blocked his way to Super Bowl glory, OJ will be called upon to do the same. With plenty of rust to shake off since tearing his Achilles, expect the Juice to get back into the groove with the basics. Expect to see OJ’s blocking prowess on display against Dallas before we see plenty of his undeniable chemistry redevelop with Brady.

2) Expect 3+ sacks on Dak. The Bucs averaged three sacks per game last year. That’s pretty friggin awesome. Look for OLB Shaquil Barrett and ILB Devin White to lead the way. Expect ILB Lavonte David and rookie OLB Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to have Dak frantically scrambling in Week 1. Expect DC Todd Bowles and his Bucs defense to “get live” early and often.

1) While Week 1 presents plenty of challenges, expect OC Byron Leftwich to play with an early lead. The Bucs will get on the board in the first quarter and that should set the tone. Expect Leftwich to have a flexible game plan that calls upon a variety of players. Much like Tom Brady’s two TD drives in their last preseason game against the Texans, expect everyone to be involved right from the start. Think efficiency. Think Red Zone.

Fire the Cannons.

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