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Cowboys vs. Bucs Preview | Wild Card Weekend

Sports

Dak Prescott hopes to lead the Cowboys to a victory over the Buccaneers | Image by Tom Pennington/Getty Images.

The Dallas Cowboys and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers clash on Monday Night Football to wrap up the first weekend of NFL playoff action. The Super Wild Card Weekend grudge match between these two teams offers the tantalizing possibility of a fantastic finish to a full weekend of do-or-die football action.

The Cowboys are one of four NFL teams that have never beaten a Tom Brady-led club, but recent history shows that it can be done.

Up until Week 18 of the regular season, the Atlanta Falcons had nine straight losses to Tom Brady and company, but a dominant second-half performance by QB Desmond Ridder and a monster day for running back Tyler Allgeier propelled the Falcons past the Bucs to earn the team’s first-ever win over Brady.

The Falcons’ win sent the Buccaneers into the playoffs with a losing record.

Just five teams have made postseason appearances on the wrong side of .500 since the NFL adopted the 16-team format in 1972. Two of those teams made the playoffs in 1982, a season cut short by player strikes.

Despite overall records that look like two teams headed in opposite directions, the Cowboys enter the postseason with issues of their own.

Week 18 saw the Cowboys lose to Washington; a team eliminated from competition the week prior. Yet even with starters in the game, Dallas managed just one touchdown and could not even add the extra point.

The Cowboys’ offense has been able to pick up wins in the back half of the season despite numerous issues, beginning with key injuries to the starting offensive line.

Quarterback Dak Prescott threw at least one interception in the last seven games straight, including three interceptions that were returned for touchdowns.

While Prescott gets credit for tossing the picks, his receivers are just as culpable. Half of the interceptions thrown this season came after receivers tipped a pass into the air, many of which should have been caught.

The Cowboys’ Week 1 loss to the Bucs marked the first of two victories this season for Tampa Bay over teams that finished with winning records. Seattle, who made the playoffs with a 9–8 record, also lost to the Buccaneers in 2022.

All of the remaining wins came over teams with losing records. The Bucs were unable to defeat several of the teams they are likely to face should the team get the job done against Dallas in the Wild Card Round.

Conversely, the Cowboys’ only two losses of the season to eventual playoff teams came against Tampa Bay and the Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas’ other three losses were all to teams that did not make the postseason.

Dallas is the current favorite to win in the game, but this contest will come down to ball security.

If Prescott and his receivers can avoid turnovers and the Dallas defense can pressure Brady, the Cowboys will stand an excellent chance of advancing to the Divisional Round.

If Prescott makes the same types of mistakes he has made in recent weeks and the Buccaneers are able to tap into the G.O.A.T. magic that Brady brings to the field, it could be the second consecutive one-and-done for the Cowboys.

The Dallas Cowboys play at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay on Monday Night Football as the primetime game of Super Wild Card Weekend. Kickoff is set for 7:15 p.m. CST, and the victor will advance to the Divisional Round.

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