In his Football Morning In America column on Monday morning, NBC Sports’ Peter King predicted that the Bucs will open the 2021 NFL season at Raymond James Stadium against one of two teams: the Buffalo Bills or the Dallas Cowboys.
It’ll be the first time in franchise history that the Bucs have opened an NFL season, as they play host to a road foe following their 2020-2021 Super Bowl Championship campaign. Facing the Cowboys would mean a clash of high-powered offenses and maybe the best two receiving corps in the league squaring off. Dak Prescott’s return to the field after a gruesome leg injury to face Tom Brady trying to go back-to-back for the second time in his illustrious career would certainly attract plenty of viewers, even if there isn’t much rivalry element to this match-up.
Still, the Cowboys are also trying to piece together a new-look defense after finishing 2020 with one of the league’s worst units. While the NFL certainly hopes they’ll return to playoff competition given their massive fanbase, the Cowboys haven’t been to the playoffs since 2018 and finished 6-10 last year. It’s a risky choice by the league if they pick Dallas to open Week 1 on the road, but obviously the payoff is huge if the game stays competitive for four quarters.
The Bills are a much safer pick, and the NFL would get the storyline of Brady against a team he is 32-3 against in his career. Many in Buffalo view overcoming Brady and the Super Bowl champion Bucs as one of the next steps in the process of going from a quality team to the best in the league. Add in the Bills being a consensus top 4-5 team in the NFL and the Bucs being in the top two, and you’ve got all the makings of a ratings bonanza and a marvelous football game.
As for the Saints, there is no doubt they will still be a challenge for the Bucs to overcome this season, but would the NFL really put a team without a clear starting quarterback on the schedule for Week 1? The Saints will let Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill battle it out for the QB1 spot during training camp, but right now the NFL would be betting on Winston seizing the job and playing the game of his life against his old squad. The storylines are there going into the game, however it’s a huge risk by the league if they opt for Saints-Bucs to open the season.
Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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