For the second straight year, the Cowboys will face the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a primetime matchup to open the season. Last season, Dallas nearly took down the defending Super Bowl champions. But, the Cowboys were foiled by a game-winning field goal from Ryan Succop and lost 31-29.
Tom Brady returns as the Buccaneers’ quarterback for his 23rd NFL season. He’s coming off one of the best seasons of his career, setting an NFL record with 485 and a career-high 5,315 passing yards. Brady has never lost to the Cowboys, going a perfect 6-0 against them in his career.
Mike Evans and Chris Godwin form one of the best receiver duos in the league. The two combined for 2,138 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns last season, with Evans scoring 14. Leonard Fournette will return at running back after rushing for 812 yards and eight touchdowns last season. Russell Gage, signed from the Atlanta Falcons in the offseason, will be Tampa Bay’s slot receiver after catching 66 passes for 770 yards and four touchdowns last season.
After Rob Gronkowski’s retirement, Cameron Brate is expected to become Tampa’s starting tight end. He’s primarily played a backup role in his career, catching 30 passes for 245 yards and four touchdowns last season.
The Buccaneers’ offensive line got a massive upgrade after trading for Patriots’ guard Shaq Mason this offseason. He’ll line up alongside Ryan Jensen at center, Donovan Smith and Tristan Wirfs at tackle, and Aaron Stinnie at guard. Wirfs is coming off his first All-Pro selection in 2021.
Edge rusher Shaquil Barrett leads the Buccaneers’ pass rush. He recorded 10 sacks and 22 QB hits last season, earning his second Pro Bowl selection. Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks are Tampa’s primary defensive tackles, with the latter being signed from the Chicago Bears this offseason. Joe Tryon-Shoyinka and William Gholston make up the rest of the defensive line at edge rusher.
Lavonte David and Devin White form one of the best linebacker duos in the league. The two combined for 150 tackles and 5.5 sacks last season. David scored a 72.3 defensive grade from Pro Football Focus last season, while White’s 35.1 was a career-low.
Carlton Davis and Jamel Dean are Tampa’s starting cornerbacks. Davis recorded one interception and defended 11 passes last season, while Dean recorded two interceptions and nine passes defended. Antoine Winfield Jr. is coming off a Pro Bowl season at safety, recording two interceptions and six passes defended last season.
After losing Jordan Whitehead to the New York Jets in free agency, new acquisition Logan Ryan takes his spot at free safety. He was signed from the New York Giants this offseason after recording a career-high 117 tackles in 2021. Former Cowboy Keanu Neal also plays at safety for the Buccaneers.
After being Tampa Bay’s defensive coordinator for the last three seasons, Todd Bowles will be its head coach after Bruce Arians’ retirement. Bowles last held a head coaching job with the Jets from 2015-18, going 22-39. The Cowboys’ week one matchup against the Buccaneers will be played at 7:20 p.m. CT on Sunday, September 11 in Arlington on NBC.