NFL Week 1 — Thursday Night Picks & Plays

Zack Nicol
2 min readSep 9, 2021


Well we’re back and I hope you enjoyed the NFL Season Power Rankings Preview article. I’m going to work on trimming everything down this year to make these nice and quick reads for everyone. FYI, I’m posting this early because I have a busy day on Thursday.

I’ll keep the same format where I will show the Model Z projection for the game, pick a winner, spread, O/U highlight any other or DFS or betting plays I may be interested in for each game. The stars represent a 1–5 confidence scale, that will be tallied up each week. See the bottom of the article for last year’s results.

To start the season off, we have a Thursday Night matchup of the Hard Knocks Dallas Cowboys and the Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

8:20 PM ET
Model Z Projection: 29–23 TB (83.60% Chance to win)
Straight Up Pick: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Spread Pick: TB -8.5⭐
O/U Pick: Under 51.5 ⭐
Zack’s Plays:
- Antonio Brown to Score 2x (+1500)
- Antonio Brown 70+ Yards (+136)
Top DFS Matchups: Ronald Jones ($5,100), Mike Evans ($6,500), Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski ($3,900)
Notable Inactives: DAL RG Z Martin, TB S Jordan Whitehead
Quick Rundown: Love this Tampa team, and I don’t mind this Cowboys team, but I think the Cowboys lose this battle in the trenches with Zack Martin out due to Covid. That, along with the fact that the Cowboys don’t have a DB group good enough to cover these guys (6th Worst in the Model Z), leads me to taking the Bucs easily, but I do really like this Cowboys Linebacker group so the confidence is low on the spread pick. If I have to pick, I’d go with the Bucs covering, but I won’t bet it though. With that note, I’ll take Micah Parsons for DROY (+600)

2020 Season Results (Wk8-SB)
Straight Up: 107–54
Spread: 76–81–5
O/U: 93–57–3
Plays*: 243–303–9
Plays by Units*: 520 bets, 374,01 won, +81.14 profit
Confidence Stars: +41



Zack Nicol

Geaux Tigers. Go Mavs. Go Pats. Go Stars. Go Rangers. Go BlueClaws.