The 2021 NFL season kicks off with two NFC teams who have experienced plenty of Super Bowl glory.
They’ve made the playoffs sporadically over the years but never returned to the big game.
On the other hand, Tom Brady and company gave the Tampa Bay Buccaneers their second Super Bowl after defeating the Kansas City Chiefs, 31-9, last February.
𝖆 𝖓𝖊𝖜 𝖏𝖔𝖚𝖗𝖓𝖊𝖞 𝖘𝖙𝖆𝖗𝖙𝖘 𝖍𝖊𝖗𝖊 pic.twitter.com/TYY8OsP2rp
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) September 8, 2021
A year later, Tampa Bay remains a title favorite after bringing their key players on both offense and defense back.
This fantastic matchup will serve as a measuring stick on how their season might unfold.
But while the main headline features the victors over the losers, other sub-stories are worth the attention in this opening showdown.
3. The Injury Report
The Buccaneers are already a man down as safety. Jordan Whitehead is out of the game due to a hamstring injury.
Everyone else on both sides is ready for action for Week 1.
The Buccaneers will be without safety Jordan Whitehead for their season opener. pic.twitter.com/8WSTwFZrrH
— theScore (@theScore) September 7, 2021
Giovani Bernard will also suit up despite nursing an ankle injury.
Meanwhile, Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence is set to play even if he’s battling with a back injury.
This game is turning out to be an intriguing one with both sides playing at full strength.
2. Which Defensive Unit Will Perform Better?
There was a time when the Cowboys had one of the oldest defensive units in the NFL.
They have one of the youngest cores, with Lawrence being the eldest at 29 years old.
.@ShannonSharpe on Micah Parsons or Patrick Surtain being more dominant next season:
"More times than not, the linebacker is going to be more impactful. Both of these guys are destined to be Pro Bowl and All-Pro multiples, but I think Parsons will have a better year." pic.twitter.com/BCNZ9iMTNz
— UNDISPUTED (@undisputed) September 2, 2021
Parsons had a strong preseason, and the Cowboys are in good fortune if he can keep the momentum.
Neutralizing Brady and the high-powered Tampa Bay offense is easier said than done.
It may sound like a cliché, but this young group must be up to the challenge to win.
Suh, Pierre-Paul, and Vita Vea will test the Dallas offensive line with constant pressure while David covers midfield.
The Tampa Bay secondary must also prove that they are not the team’s Achilles heel anymore.
1. How Healthy Is Dak Prescott?
Prescott starting Week 1 is music to the Cowboys’ ears.
However, his accurate bill of health is still up for judgment.
He asked for another MRI on his non-throwing shoulder after suffering a latissimus strain.
The return of @dak ⭐️
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) September 8, 2021
Lucky for Dallas, their starting quarterback is not thinking about his previously injured ankle anymore.
Prescott can be a handful for the Buccaneers if he returns to his pre-injury form.
But he will be in harm’s way until the game ends.