The Daily Sweat: The NFL returns, and the Cowboys are getting too many points

It seems possible that the Dallas Cowboys-Tampa Bay Buccaneers could hit records for bets on a regular-season game.

More states than ever have legal sports betting, with Arizona launching sport betting today. We have waited a long time for the NFL to return. And when it does return on Thursday night, it's with the defending champion Buccaneers, the most notable name in the NFL in Tom Brady, and a Cowboys team that gets more attention than any other NFL franchise.

It might be a perfect storm. It's not a bad line, either.

The Buccaneers are favored by 8.5 points at BetMGM. That line keeps going up. When BetMGM released lines in mid-May, it was -6.5.

A pair of news items have contributed to the 2-point change. Dak Prescott's issues with a lat strain in camp was a scare, though he will start Week 1. Then came news that guard Zack Martin was on the COVID-19 list and was likely to miss the opener. We saw what the Bucs can do to a depleted line in last season's Super Bowl.

It's easy to make a case for the Buccaneers, who got hot late last season, won a championship and brought all 22 starters back. They're a balanced team that will have an additional emotional bump with fans back at Raymond James Stadium watching a banner being raised.

Still, is moving through the key number of 7 (and 8 as well, which can be an important number in the NFL) justified? Does Dallas deserve to be the biggest underdog on the NFL board for Week 1? Probably not. Martin is a great player but it would be the first time in NFL history a guard being inactive moved a line 2 points. Prescott is a bit of an unknown going into the opener after his leg injury last season and the lat troubles, but nobody in Dallas seems worried.

We know the Cowboys can score in bunches. Their receiver trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup might be the best in the game, and Ezekiel Elliott looks to be in great shape. Even if the Cowboys defense gives up points, Dallas' offense can keep pace. The chance of a backdoor cover with an offense like that is always in play.

To start the NFL season, let's take the underdog. It's too many points to give an offense this explosive.

Dak Prescott (4) and Ezekiel Elliott (21) of the Dallas Cowboys are hoping for a fast start to the season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
Dak Prescott (4) and Ezekiel Elliott (21) of the Dallas Cowboys are hoping for a fast start to the season. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Here's the first look at the sports betting slate for Thursday:

OK, what about other Cowboys-Bucs bets?

Over 51.5 seems to be the way to go if you like totals. Both teams can air it out, and I'm not convinced the Cowboys can do much to stop it. I'd take the over on CeeDee Lamb's 62.5 receiving yards and the under on Michael Gallup's 51.5 (I like Gallup's talent but not sure where his targets come from). For the Buccaneers I'd take over on 35.5 rushing yards for Leonard Fournette and over 4.5 tackles and assists for Carlton Davis III in what should be a pass-heavy game.

Are there still baseball games to bet on?

Yep, though not too many. Two of the eight games (Dodgers-Cardinals, White Sox-A's) are in the afternoon. The Yankees-Blue Jays game at night is interesting but will be buried by the attention on the NFL. Taking the Dodgers and A's in the afternoon is a fine appetizer for the NFL opener.

Who cashed tickets on Wednesday?

The Blue Jays had a huge win, beating the Yankees 6-3. They've taken the first three games of a four-game set, each win coming as an underdog, and they're slight -105 underdogs again Thursday. They've been good to us all week and I'll take them again Thursday.

The San Francisco Giants had a big day. They rallied in the ninth inning to beat the Colorado Rockies, then watched the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Los Angeles Dodgers as a +105 underdog on Wednesday night. The Giants now lead the NL West by two games.

What's the best bet?

It's the Cowboys and the points, and if you want to take a bit of the +325 moneyline I can't blame you. Welcome back, NFL.