Tom Brady of the Buccaneers looks on during a preseason game against...

Tom Brady of the Buccaneers looks on during a preseason game against the Titans at Raymond James Stadium on Aug. 21, in Tampa, Fla. Credit: Getty Images/Mike Ehrmann


TV: NBC, 8:20 p.m.

Line: Tampa Bay by 8; O/U: 52

It’s America’s Team vs. America’s Quarterback as the 2021 season kicks off Thursday night. While the opener to any NFL season is difficult to predict, this feels as if there’s only one choice: Back the Bucs.

If there’s anything I’ve learned in writing the NFL picks column, it’s to not doubt Tom Brady (even though I sometimes forget that important nugget and pick against him, like in last year’s Super Bowl). The defending champs are remarkably returning all 22 starters.

Dak Prescott is back for Dallas, but with this being his first game after such a long time off, it’s only natural if he isn’t at his best right away. Not having Zack Martin (COVID) on the O-line only makes things more difficult, and Tampa Bay’s pass rush should dominate the way it did in the Super Bowl.

Brady is 3-1 when his team kicks off the entire NFL season in prime time, and he likes playing on Thursdays: 12-3 with 29 TDs to just six INTs. Oh, and he’s never lost to Dallas (5-0).

He won’t here, either, as Tampa Bay rings in the new year with a double-digit win.

The pick: Bucs

Staff Picks

Bob Glauber: Bucs

Tom Rock: Cowboys

Al Iannazzone: Cowboys

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