Tonight's Bucs - Cowboys game is why I hate betting on sports.
For those who don't know, I give out NFL betting picks that I like for every week of the season. Each week, there's a single bet that I hold in higher regard than all others. A bet that is guaranteed to hit. A bet that I would almost bet my house on (if I owned a house). I call it the Lock of the Week. What was my Lock of the Week for week 1? You guessed it: Tampa Bay -8 at home against the Cowboys on Thursday night.
The Buccaneers were entering this season fresh off an annihilation of the defending world champion Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. As someone who had a good amount of money on the Chiefs in that game, my doubts surrounding the Bucs were proven to be false. Tampa Bay would have probably defeated any football team in the history of man on that night, and I became a believer in them following that game.
Fast forward to tonight, and the Buccaneers begin the 2021 season at home, in front of a full crowd, celebrating their 2020 championship season. They returned essentially their entire team on both sides of the ball. Tom freaking Brady has about 17 All-Pro caliber players to distribute the ball to, a stout offensive line, and a tenacious defense. Meanwhile, Dallas wouldn't have been able to slow down my local high school's offense last year, and they were also entering the game without their best offensive lineman and glue to their whole team.
It felt like tonight's game was setting up to be a massacre, and Vegas reflected that. The line at DraftKings closed at 9 points, and I would have still hammered the Bucs at that figure had I not already gotten it at 8. I was ready to enjoy the first game of the NFL season, start 1-0 with my weekly Locks, and win some money, all at the same time. But like most of you will already know, that's not how it turned out.
âThe first drive for each team had my confidence tremble a little bit, but I was not too shaken. The Bucs received the opening kickoff and went three-and-out. The Cowboys put together an impressive drive from their own 2-yard line before being forced to punt. Then, all became right in the world. Tampa drove down the field rather easily and scored on a short pass to Chris Godwin to take a 7-0 lead.
Despite Dallas tying it up at 7 just minutes later, I was still really confident as I watched the Buccaneers drive down and score again to go up 14-7. But shortly after, my supreme confidence began to quake. It looked like the Cowboys were going to cut the lead to 4 when Greg Zuerlein missed a 31-yard field goal, giving the ball back to Tampa. This is when I thought the Bucs were going to step on their opponents throats and essentially put the game to rest in the second quarter.
But thanks to Ronald Jones, the Cowboys got the ball back just one play later following a fumble. Then 5 plays after that, it was a one point game (Zuerlein missed the potential tying extra point after a Cowboys TD). Okay, no worries, still enough time to go back down and score before - wait, what? Brady throws a screen pass that bounces off Leonard Fournette's hands and into the arms of Cowboys corner Trevon Diggs? Another turnover? On the first play of the drive? On a SCREEN PASS??? What are we doing here, Tampa?
But those plays weren't even the most frustrating events of the game for me. I still felt good in my bet at the time. The Bucs had an entire half to put up some points and contain Dallas's offense.
Enter Chris Godwin. With just over 12 minutes left in the game and the Bucs up 2 on third and 10, Tom Brady lobs up a gorgeous ball deep down the middle on third down intended for Godwin. Godwin looks over the wrong shoulder, then tries to recover, but is unable to reel in Brady's pass, which would have been an easy touchdown if he had made the catch and just fallen forward a few yards into the end zone. It wasn't an entirely devastating drop, but it was certainly disheartening. Unfortunately for me, Mr. Godwin wasn't finished...
The very next drive, after Tampa's defense forced a three-and-out, the Buccaneers are driving again and quickly reach the red zone. With just over five minutes to play, Brady hits Godwin in the flat, who runs up field, spins off a defender, approaches the goal line, and then... fumbles. Another turnover and another tragic missed opportunity for the Bucs. (To make matters even worse for me, Chris Godwin is on my fantasy team! Instead of earning me a potential 20 fantasy points in those two plays alone, he lost a point!)
From there, our hopes of a cover were slim to none, and as most of you probably already know, the Buccaneers kicked a game winning field goal to win by a mere 2 points. I should have expected it to be honest. My Locks of the Week performed hilariously bad all last season, despite having a respectable winning record for all the other picks I gave out. I thought we were going to turn it around this year, but 2021 seems to have brought more of the same.
Hooray for the return of football. There's nothing quite like losing money in the most unlikely of ways. If you read my betting articles, this is your advice to fade my weekly Locks at all cost.
I'm never betting on the Buccaneers again.
Written by Nick Swatson
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Expert Nick Swatson discusses all the news, predictions, and outcomes surrounding the NFL.