NFL

NFL returns September 9: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The NFL season is back on Thursday with its first ever 18-week season as the Super Bowl champions host Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys in Tampa Bay.

The preseason has ended and we are less than a week away from the 2021-22 NFL regular season. The season kicks off with the Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay Buccaneers hosting the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday night, September 9th at 8:20pm ET. This will be the NFL's first ever 18-week, 272-game season.

Dallas disappointment

After a disappointing preseason, the Cowboys will be looking to redeem themselves with their starters in the opening game against Tampa Bay. They were one of only two teams to have played four preseason games instead of three, and they lost every single one. Granted, this is preseason we're talking about. There was no Dak Prescott in any of those games either, and he makes a world of difference on offense. Head coach Mike McCarthy has been exercising extreme caution with the quarterback after a suffering from a shoulder strain in training camp. Last season saw Dak out with an ankle injury and they aren't taking any risks this year.

The Cowboys finished third in the NFC East last season with a 6-10 record. They have missed the NFL playoffs the past two years in a row. The team is optimistic about Dak's return and chose Cooper Rush as the backup quarterback over Garrett Gilbert. They will still need to cut down their 53-man roster before the deadline on Tuesday at 4pm ET.

Tampa Bay looks to keep winning record

As for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, their preseason and 2020/21 regular season looked quite different than the Cowboys'. They lost their first two preseason games but won the third against the Houston Texans. Although by now we know the preseason is not typically a good indicator for how the regular season will look. Last season the Bucs finished with an 11-5 record and went on to win the Super Bowl LV against the Kansas City Chiefs. Tampa Bay will also need to submit their 53-man roster before the deadline as they still have slots that need to be filled. Their odds are good to beat the Cowboys, but it will be an exciting matchup of the two quarterbacks, Tom Brady and Dak Prescott.