The defending Super Bowl champions are kicking off the 2021 NFL season against America’s Team. After a long offseason, Nostrathomas has emerged from hibernation to begin another year of picking every game on the new 18-week, 17 game schedule straight-up and against the spread.
As it was for nearly everyone, 2020 was not good to Nostrathomas. It was the first season in the eight years that I’ve been picking winners that I ended up under .500 against the spread.
Nostrathomas Predicts Kickoff Thursday
It’s time to get the prediction train back on track. The crystal beer mugs are full and ready to read the future through. Let’s have fun and make some money.
Thursday Night Football
Dallas Cowboys vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers -8.5 (Thursday Night Football; Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, FL)
Over the last three days the line for this game has jumped from the Buccaneers -7 to them being favored by -8.5 points.
Tampa Bay is returning the same weapons on offense and defense that tore through their opposition from Week 14 through to their dominant performance in Super Bowl LV. Despite that, the Buccaneers are sailing in uncharted territory when it comes to their future Hall of Fame quarterback.
Until Tom Brady came along only two quarterbacks have taken their teams to the playoffs after turning 40 years of age. Drew Brees, two days after his 42nd birthday, fell to Brady’s Bucs last season in an NFC Divisional Round game. Before that, in 2009 at the age of 40, Brett Favre led the Minnesota Vikings to a 12-4 record and was one ill-advised cross-body pass away from starting for the team in Super Bowl XLIV.
Brady has not only piloted his team to four playoff appearances after celebrating his 40th birthday, he has also hoisted the Lombardi Trophy twice.
At age 44, there’s no question that Brady possesses the drive to excel that has carried himself and his teams to the heights that they’ve achieved over the course of his career. The problem is that all the diet, discipline and training that Brady embraces won’t make a difference to the physical processes that are necessary to play quarterback at an elite level.
Reflexes slow as every person ages. The protective coating surrounding nerve fibers begins to weaken and impulses from the brain travel slower. There isn’t a training regimen that exists that can reverse this process. Brett Favre, Drew Brees and the handful of others that have started at quarterback after the age of 40, despite their best efforts, fell victim to father time. We’ll soon see if Brady can continue to out race him.
Tampa Bay finished third in the NFL in points scored last season. That’s going to cause headaches for a Dallas Cowboys defense that finished the 2020 season 28th in points allowed.
Dallas began taking steps to improve their defense by firing defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and bringing in former Atlanta Falcons head coach Dan Quinn. Next, they shored up their secondary by signing safety Keanu Neal and cornerback Damontae Kazee from the Atlanta Falcons. Finally, they spent seven of their nine picks in the 2021 NFL Draft on the defensive side of the ball, starting with linebacker Micah Parsons at twelfth overall.
The positive for the Cowboys is that Dak Prescott will be back under center to run the offense. Joining him will be a rededicated Ezekiel Elliott at running back and receivers Amari Cooper and CeeDee Lamb.
We’re looking at two questions that will begin getting answered on Thursday night. Along with Brady’s ability to maintain his level of play at age 44 and will the moves Dallas made in the offseason begin to revive their comatose defense.
We’re going to have to wait a few weeks for the answer on Brady. As for the Cowboys, even with the moves they’ve made, the team has a long way to go to be competitive on defense.
They finished 2020 finished 22nd in net passing yards per attempt allowed, 21st in opponent’s passer rating, 30th in rushing yards per attempt allowed and 26th in third down conversions allowed. That’s a lot of ground to make up in the first game of the season against s Bucs team that excels on offense. That isn’t even taking into consideration that Tampa Bay can also dial up the defense against anyone.
One final trend tidbit to throw out there for consideration, in his career Tom Brady is 15-1 in Week 1 games.
A main rule that Nostrathomas always follows when predicting games is, don’t bet the road dog unless you think they can win the game. The Dallas Cowboys are not going to win this game. Take the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to win and cover.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 30 Dallas Cowboys 20