Cowboys vs Buccaneers Odds, Preview: Dallas Favored in NFC Playoff Matchup
Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images. Pictured: Tom Brady tackled by Cowboys.
Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Odds
The Cowboys won 12 games this season. Their reward is a road game in the playoffs against Tom Brady.
The Cowboys vs. Buccaneers odds have installed Dallas as a favorite, which is no surprise. Tampa Bay struggled offensively all season, although it looks like Brady ended the season playing his best football.
Dallas, meanwhile, underwhelmed in Week 18 against Washington.
Cowboys vs. Buccaneers Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Cowboys and Buccaneers match up statistically:
Cowboys vs. Buccaneers DVOA Breakdown
Anthony Dabbundo's Team Breakdowns
Dallas’ offensive talent doesn’t necessarily jump off the page after CeeDee Lamb. Still, the Cowboys offense has been as good as any in the NFL.
The Cowboys have by far the No. 1 third-down offense in the NFL since Week 7, when Dak Prescott returned from injury. Dallas has an effective run offense, but there is some worry Kellen Moore’s conservative playcalling in second-and-medium (to long) situations puts them in too many third-and-mediums.
They rely heavily on Prescott’s precision to be an effective pass offense and his decision making hasn’t been as sharp as years' past. His turnover-worthy plays and interception rates have doubled this season.
The defense generates a ton of turnovers and has a great pass rush, but it’s quite overrated on a play-to-play basis. The injuries have piled up at linebacker, nose tackle and corner as well. The result is the defense is in the bottom 10 in success rate and EPA/play allowed since December.
Dallas is probably going to need to win shootouts to progress deep into the playoffs. Is Moore willing to unleash Prescott? Or will the Cowboys be stuck running on 2nd-and-8 and creating one too many 3rd-and-5s to be effective?
The range of outcomes is wide for the Cowboys, but Prescott’s been a top-five quarterback in efficiency since returning and that gives them a chance against all of these overrated secondaries in the NFC playoffs. He could also make one too many mistakes and send them home on Wild Card Weekend. There were only three NFC teams that outscored opponents by more than 25 points this season — Dallas was one of them.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay has only been an effective offense this season when operating from behind, in the two-minute drill and almost entirely abandoning the run.
Tom Brady has declined in efficiency and accuracy in a big way, but he gets a matchup with a soft Dallas secondary. The Buccaneers can't run the ball at all, ranking 27th in rushing success rate and last in EPA per rush.
The offensive line has had major issues in run protection and those aren’t going to be solved, even against an undersized Cowboys defensive front.
Let’s consider the Buccaneers' wins this season: Atlanta, New Orleans (twice), Carolina, Los Angeles (Rams), Seattle, Dallas in Week 1 and Arizona (with Trace McSorley). The defense is a whole lot different now than it was in Week 1, when it shut down the Cowboys offense.
The defense is getting healthier now in the secondary, but this isn’t an elite and impenetrable run defense anymore. The Buccaneers rank 11th in rushing success rate allowed and 19th in EPA per rush allowed. If Tampa can’t run it or stop the run effectively, they’ll need Brady to win over and over again with underneath throws.
The Cowboys defense has enough holes right now that they’re vulnerable there. That’s Tampa’s best shot at pulling an upset as a home underdog.