NFL betting picks: Best bets for Cowboys vs Buccaneers
Zach Brunner's best bets for Thursday night's season opener in Tampa Bay include the first-half spread and a player to score a touchdown.
Visit Betway’s NFL picks page for picks and predictions throughout the season.
The NFL is officially back! To kick off the regular season, the Dallas Cowboys take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football.
After a tremendous Super Bowl-winning season, it seems strange that this will be the first true home crowd Tom Brady and this version of the Buccaneers will play for. Expect a ton of energy and excitement.
The excitement isn’t reserved for only fans in attendance, though. I don’t know about you, but winning money is pretty exciting for me.
So, let’s do just that. Here are four of the best NFL betting picks for Thursday night’s season opener.
First-half spread: Buccaneers -5.5
The game line for this matchup has moved all the way to 8.5 at the time of writing. There is a chance we see this move back to Tampa -8 for a little bit, which would be wise to jump on.
Instead of the full game, we will bet the Buccaneers to lead by at least a touchdown at the half. Again, this is the first home Tampa crowd that Tom Brady has played in front of. After being stuck at home watching their team win a Super Bowl, this is going to be a crazy crowd.
The extra energy in the stadium should lead to Tampa’s offense and defense playing with a bit of extra juice. They may not even need it. Dallas had the worst first-half defense in the entire NFL last season, giving up 17.1 points per game.
The Buccaneers should have little trouble exposing the Cowboys secondary. On the flip side, Zach Martin’s absence is going to be a problem for the Dallas offensive line, leading to a slow start.
Ronald Jones II anytime touchdown
There are a few solid reasons to project Ronald Jones II to find the end zone. First, the Buccaneers are expected to win and score over 30 points.
Playing with a lead, they are in a better position to run the football and can control the clock by keeping the ball on the ground.
Jones led the Buccaneers in red zone carries last season, with 32. Leonard Fournette was the next closest with 20. Jones also added five red zone targets in the passing game.
If Tampa gets into the red zone, there is a high chance Jones gets to touch the football. He also had a 98-yard run last season, showing he is a big play threat as well.
Highest-scoring quarter: Second quarter
Last season, the second quarter averaged the most points scored in the NFL.
This held true for both of these teams as well, as Tampa averaged 10.3 second quarter points per game, which was the second-highest in the league. Their next highest-scoring quarter average was 8.1.
The Cowboys also averaged 8.1 second quarter points per game which, again, was their highest-scoring quarter.
Longest made field goal: Buccaneers
Again, let’s project game flow.
Tampa is projected to win and score over 30 points, and teams are more likely to settle for field goals when they have a lead, since trailing teams may be in a position where they feel pressured to go for it on fourth down. This point alone hints at Tampa being the play.
Dallas also enters this game with kicker Greg Zuerlein having been active only a couple weeks. He was on the physically unable to perform list prior to this, due to having offseason back surgery.
For that reason, the Cowboys may not feel comfortable trotting out their kicker for a long field goal.