Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The ’21 NFL season begins where the ’20 season concluded, in Tampa Bay, where the Buccaneers will raise their championship banner before taking the field as 7.5-point favorites over the Cowboys. This line opened at 6.5 and got Over the key number of 7, going all the way to 10 in some shops due to pessimism over the status of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott. He did not play in the preseason and was reportedly nursing a sore shoulder. Prescott will play in his first game since last October, when an ankle injury against the Giants ended his season. The Bucs were the only team to finish in the top five in both offensive and defensive DVOA in 2020, according to Football Outsiders, and remarkably return every coach and starter from last season. The defending champs are riding an eight-game winning streak into the opener, as a Week 12 loss to the Chiefs last year was the last time the Bucs were defeated. They won their last four regular-season games as well as four straight in the postseason en route to winning the title. The Cowboys missed the playoffs for the second consecutive season and just went winless in four preseason games. They hired Dan Quinn to coach what Cowboys bettors hope is a new-look defense, considering the unit ranked 31st against the run in 2020. Oddsmakers expect some fireworks in this one, as the total is set at 52.
Miami Dolphins at New England Patriots
A spring game in Tuscaloosa is headed north as Tua Tagavailoa and Mac Jones renew acquaintances in the season opener when the Dolphins and Pats open the season in Foxborough for the second straight year. This line has ping-ponged back and forth. It opened at 2.5, briefly ticked up to the key number of 3, then moved back to 2.5 after Jones was announced as the starter. The Patriots will not look the same as the 7-9 team that missed the playoffs last year, as they add an influx of talent with the return of opt-outs, some major free-agent signings and the addition of their rookie quarterback. The Dolphins add receivers Jaylen Waddle and Will Fuller looking to spark their offense and improve on a 10-win season in which they fell just short of a playoff berth. This game is one of the lower totals of the opening week and has been bet down from 45.5 to 43.5.