Stuff that matters

One week from tonight, the 2021 regular season will begin.

The Buccaneers will host the Cowboys, with Tampa Bay raising a banner to commemorate the second NFL championship in franchise history.

The home team is a 7.5-point favorite; it’s hard not to envision the Buccaneers covering. The Bucs are bringing back all starters, quarterback Tom Brady is healthy (as far as we know — after all, they lied about his health in 2020), and Brady has a full season with the team under his belt.

For the Cowboys to have a chance, they need to pressure and confuse Brady. Given his age and lack of mobility, he’s inclined to get rid of the ball in lieu of taking a hit, even if it means coughing up a turnover. That’s what happened in the NFC Championship at Green Bay. And if the Packers had managed to complete a comeback from a 28-10 second-half deficit, the narrative for the past eight months would have been whether Tom Brady is washed up.

Instead, it feels like the Bucs are poised to become the first team since Brady’s Patriots in 2004 to repeat as Super Bowl winners. One week from tonight, it all gets started.