The first Sunday night game of the NFL's 2022 season featured the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys. The last Monday night game will also feature those two teams together, and for one of them it will also be the final game of the 2022 season.
In the first matchup, Tom Brady and the Bucs came out on top 19-3. Dak Prescott got hurt and the Cowboys media went into a free fall until Cooper Rush saved the season. It was the highest point of the season for the Bucs and probably the lowest for Dallas. Anything can happen around playoff time.
Divisional winners who finished under .500 during the season tend to erupt in the first round of the postseason. Anyone remember Seattle hosting New Orleans, the site of the beast quake? This may be Tom Brady’s last playoff run so let’s dive into it.
Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread: Dallas (-2.5)
Let’s get this straight, Dallas is the better team here. I’m not sure I would quantify Tampa has been good. Dallas’s defense ranks second in DVOA. Even with GOAT throwing the football, Tampa’s offense has been lackluster at best. Tampa has the worst rushing attack in the NFL averaging 3.4 yards per rush. They have more passing attempts than anyone in the NFL.
That’s where Dallas wants you.
Dallas ranks first in the NFL in pass rush win rate and they rank in the top 10 in interceptions made. The secondary is aggressive and can be beaten on the outside. I just don’t think Brady will have any time to throw behind his offensive line.
On the other side, Dallas should run the ball against a Tampa defense that ranks 31st in rush DVOA. Which is a weird stat to type considering Tampa has been the best team against the run for the last half decade.
Beyond that, you can’t forget about the intangibles. You have Tampa playing at home. Tom Brady is the GOAT. He has been here before. While Dallas hasn’t won a playoff game since 2018. Is Dak Prescott going to feel the pressure of Cowboys nation? It’s a legitimate question to ask after last season's opening round loss against the 49ers.
With that being said, I’m going to bite the bullet and go with Dallas here. But doing begrudgingly. Dallas is the better team in all three phases. You have to play the game. Tom Brady is a gamer in these moments. Give me Dallas to move on to the next round.
The pick: Dallas (-2.5)
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