Since 2002, the NFL has opened its season with the “NFL Kickoff Game,” which is always the Thursday after Labor Day and, ideally, hosted by the defending Super Bowl champions.
The problem with that, of course, is you also have to showcase the team the Super Bowl champions have been aligned with by the NFL scheduling stars. And this year, one half of the coin is prettier than the other.
Thursday night, a national television audience will see Tom Brady begin the quest for his eighth Super Bowl championship by hosting. I hope you are sitting down because your lackluster feelings might strip you of your will to stand, the dumpster fire of shitty baby diapers that is Dallas Cowboys.
That’s right. The Bucs basically get a bye to open the season because Tom Brady needs the help. (Tampa Bay is currently an 8-point favorite against Dallas, according to NFL odds provided by MaximBet.)
Yay. We get to see Mike McCarthy take the field with a stream of toilet paper trailing from his shoe leading the franchise formerly known as “America’s Team.” Thank goodness the U.S. decided it needed to consciously uncouple, get really into juicing on Instagram and open an Etsy store.
It will not shock you to hear that the Buccaneers are not only the NFC favorites heading into this season, but they’re right behind the Kansas City Chiefs at +600 in the Super Bowl LVI odds.
You could bet them because you think they’ll win it all, or you could play the long game with your own luck and bet on them as a jinx, trying to muster all your karmic powers in monetary form to cost Brady another freaking championship. I can’t fault you either way.
Where Have the Dallas Cowboys Been?
If you were just now finishing grad school or wrapping up a PhD, you’re probably too young to remember a time when the Dallas Cowboys were the preeminent football franchise in the NFL.
If you are only today beginning the contributions to your retirement fund or perusing baby names with your new spouse, you probably have no concept whatsoever of the 1992-95 dynastic run when the Cowboys dominated the NFL, winning three Super Bowls and propelling multiple players on both sides of the ball into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
If you think Pearl Jam, Nirvana and Alice In Chains are your dad’s music, you likely have no idea who Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith are. It’s ok. But just trust me. They were good. It was a thing.
You may also be surprised to learn that the Cowboys have made the playoffs 10 more times since that dynasty walked the hallowed fields of the NFL. I was, and I get paid to write about this stuff.
Are Things Improving in Jerryworld?
If you’re wondering why such a storied franchise has fallen on such decades-long tough luck, look no further than their current starring role on HBO’s Hard Knocks.
Hard Knocks is not an honor any NFL team wants to receive. To land on the show, you have to miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons and not have just hired a new coach. As Dallas finished 6-10 last season, a year after an 8-8 season got Jason Garrett fired, it was a no-brainer to draft the Cowboys for Hard Knocks.
And supplying the “no-brain” required would be Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy. That’s the same McCarthy who Aaron Rodgers once said had the lowest football IQ of any coach he’s ever had.
Hard Knocks has put McCarthy’s lack of football knowledge on display. Whether it’s not realizing his star quarterback has practiced too much after coming back from an injury (getting Dak Prescott injured again in the process) or using Austin Powers quotes about his level of horniness as a motivational tool, there’s a reason that all but two head coaches featured on Hard Knocks over the last decade have been fired.
Of those fired, all but one got the boot the very same season Hard Knocks aired.
So, there is hope, Cowboys fans. Not this year. Let’s not be ridiculous.
Tampa Bay Is More Than a Touchdown Favorite
A few days away from kickoff, the Bucs are an 8-point favorite with an over-under of 52. The NFL’s premiere game, its first of the season, is not expected to be close.
Prescott has been cleared to play, but he’s not been 100 percent all camp (thanks to McCarthy) and he’s lost his starting guard, Zach Martin, to a positive COVID-19 test. Now they’ll have a backup trying to keep Ndamukong Suh from busting through the middle of the line like the Kool-Aid Man.
The Bucs, as we discussed last week, have brought back all 22 offensive and defensive starters. Yeah. It’s not going to be close.
Not-So Bold Prediction: Bucs 34, Cowboys 23
Adam Greene is @TheFirstMan on Twitter.
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