The Opponent: The Buccaneers, aka the Bucs, aka the F-cs.
Wait a second? Did Martellus Bennett cal them the F-cs on his Twitter feed? Oh, yes.
Oh, no he di-in’t! Oh, yes he di-id.
The Coach: Raheem Morris, aka Radio. Morris is a complete unknown as far as head coaches go. He could be the next Mike Tomlin. Or he could be the next Rod Rust. There’s no way to know. But one thing’s for certain: he’s already a better coach than Wade Phillips.
The Offense: The Bucs, for now, will be led by Byron Leftwich at QB, who beat out Luke McCown for the starting gig. McCown was subsequently traded to Jacksonville. Rookie first-rounder Josh Freeman will be the backup, and will probably unseat Leftwich by mid-season. For now, DeMarcus Ware and company get to feast on Leftwich and his not-so-dangerous sub-8.0 speed. Ware needs to beat left tackle Donald Penn and get Leftwich often. Because, given time, Leftwich is more than capable of getting the ball downfield to Kellen Winslow and Antonio Bryant, who likely WILL play in this game, despite a knee injury. Only four tackles gave up more sacks last year than Penn, so that bodes well.
At running back, Cadillac Williams will start for Tampa, and will split carries with free agent Derrick Ward and Earnest Graham. Williams will get two series, then Ward gets the next two, then Graham gets the next one. Is this team fantasy death? Oh, yes. Yes, indeed.
The Defense: The Bucs are in the midst of an overhaul on D, getting rid of future Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks and relying on younger guys like Gaines Adams and Aqib “Cabbie Puncher” Talib to serve as the foundation of the team’s next great defensive era. For now, their best player on D is linebacker Barrett Ruud. Look for him to shadow Felix Jones and Marion Barber whenever they go out to catch a pass.
The Line: Cowboys by 2 1/2
The Danger: It’s tempting for the Cowboys to look ahead to the opening of JerryWorld against the Giants on Sept. 20. Most people agree the Bucs are retooling and will struggle to finish the year out of the NFC South basement. But I think we can all agree this Cowboys outfit has no business at all overlooking any opponent it plays. Perception may tell you the Bucs are an easy opener. They are not. Both these teams went 9-7 last year. And the Bucs, unlike the Cowboys, outscored their opponents over the course of 16 games last season. Throw in the fact that this is a road game (They have cannons!), and it’s clear this one won’t be easy.