2022 NFC Wild-Card Preview: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The final 2022 NFC wild-card matchup has the Dallas Cowboys traveling to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. These teams played earlier this season with Tampa Bay taking the victory in Dallas. Will round two be different? Here are three reasons why each team will win the final game of super wild-card weekend!
12-5 Dallas Cowboys 8-9 Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Monday, Jan. 16, 8:15 p.m. ET on ESPN
Why the Dallas Cowboys Will Win
1. Unluckiness Regresses to the Mean
Does Dak Prescott lead the league in interceptions? Yes. However, he has had the most horrific interception luck I have seen. Prescott has 18 turnover-worthy plays and a turnover-worthy play percentage of four percent. Here is a quick list of quarterbacks with more turnover-worthy plays and a higher turnover-worthy play percentage: Geno Smith (29 and 4.2 percent), Josh Allen (29 and 4.2 percent), Tua Tagovailoa (19 and 4.2 percent) and Justin Fields (21 and 4.4 percent).
All of those quarterbacks have fewer interceptions than Prescott on the season. He has been incredibly unlucky when it comes to his interceptions, he takes relatively good care of the football, or at least better than his interception numbers would suggest. He and the Cowboys simply cannot keep being this unlucky in turnovers.
2. Micah Parsons Revenge Tour
Earlier on Wednesday, the NFLPA announced the first-ever NFLPA All-Pro list voted on by the players and only the players. Micah Parsons did NOT make this list and had some words to say about it.
The man is mad, and he is out to make the NFL world pay for not having him on their All-Pro list. Also, if Parsons is being matched up against Donovan Smith that advantage for Dallas is so large it could flip the game by itself.
3. Offensive Fire Power
The Cowboys have a great offense. CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup are a great pair of wide receivers. Zack Martin is still an elite player, and the rest of that offensive line is playing very well. They have two running backs who are legit and can play, even though one is clearly better than the other and one needs to get moved to save the Cowboys’ cap situation. They can score with anyone in the league, and Prescott is a top-12 quarterback who can run the offense.
Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Will Win
1. Tom Brady In The Playoffs
Tom Brady in the playoffs is just something you do not bet against. Sure, the team has a losing record, but Brady is still playing like a very good quarterback. His history in the playoffs and in overall clutch moments cannot be ignored. The same goes for his amount of experience in the NFL, which is over half of his entire life. Brady being on this team means they are never truly out of it.
2. Elite Offensive Players
Before you talk about how Brady’s final year in New England involved his team limping into the playoffs — which eerily similar to Tampa Bay in the present — that team did not have this cast of playmakers on offense.
Chris Godwin and Mike Evans are the top two wide receivers, then Julio Jones waiting as the third option. This offensive line is great as well. Tristan Wirfs is one of the best tackles in the NFL, and the Shaq Mason trade is proving to be a valuable acquisition. Robert Hainsey is playing respectably at center for the injured Ryan Jensen.
3. Can We Really Trust Dallas in the Playoffs?
Can we really take Dallas seriously in the playoffs? Seeing how they played against Washington, in a situation where the No. 1-seed was a possibility has to be concerning. It was also easily Prescott’s worst game of the season, so you have to be concerned going forward. This is a team, and a coach, that has consistently underperformed in the postseason. That track record has to mean something.
This was the game I have been going back and forward with the most. It feels weird siding with the Dallas Cowboys over Tom Brady in a playoff game, but this Buccaneers team just feels lucky to be here. Ultimately, I am going to side with the Dallas Cowboys. Parsons is too good, and I trust Dan Quinn to match him up against Donovan Smith. I also trust this Dallas offensive line to win the trench battle.
Score prediction: 34-24, Dallas