clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Buccaneers 2016 season preview: Beating the Cowboys in week 15

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Previewing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2016 season game by game. Today: at the Dallas Cowboys in week 15.

Bucs all-time record vs. Cowboys: 4-13

This will be the Bucs’ final non-division game of the season and as such, is the least important game in the last month of the 2016 season. Of course, every win is still important — and the Cowboys should be thoroughly beatable, coming off a disappointing 4-12 season marred by some chronic Tony Romo injuries.

Last year, the Bucs barely beat the Cowboys. Jameis Winston struggled to move the ball throughout and threw two interceptions, while Doug Martin couldn’t really power the offense either. Thankfully, the Bucs defense stepped up and produced a stifling effort against Matt Cassel, limiting Dallas to just six points. Winston eventually capped a long, last-second drive with a sprint into the endzone for a 10-6 win — a win that was almost cancelled out by a Jameis Winston fumble on the final drive, overturned by penalty.

That Cowboys team was absolutely terrible. The new Cowboys team really isn’t much better. They signed a few second-tier free agents at low-impact positions, although at least they didn’t lose any significant players in free agency. The problem for the Cowboys is that they didn’t get all that much help in the draft, either. Ezekiel Elliott should boost the running game, but second-rounder Jaylon Smith probably won’t even play in his first season, while their third-round pick is recovering from a broken foot. There’s no added receiving talent, they’re still in massive trouble if Romo gets injured yet again, and the defense lost one of its most talented players to a ten-game suspension in Rolando McClain.

Their one, solid, reliable strength is the running game, boosted by arguably the best offensive line in the NFL. But it’s been decades since a running game alone could get an NFL team to the top — you need a whole lot more than that, and the Cowboys just don’t have it.

All of that makes for a really good recipe for disaster, and one the Bucs should exploit, especially when Dallas’ roster depth thins toward the end of the year. If everything goes their way and the Bucs have a mostly healthy, improved team at the end of the season, this should be a relatively easy win.