Last week the Cowboys had their opportunities to pick up a huge win at the Ravens but some clock mismanagement, missed FG, penalties and a plethora of blunders kept Dallas from winning a game they should have won. Similarly a few weeks ago the Panthers played a great game at the unbeaten Falcons but they couldn’t close it at the end and came away with a stinging loss.
Both teams were recently beaten by Seattle too and both desperately seek a “W”.
QBs: Tony Romo and Cam Newton are not having great seasons as both have thrown more INTs than TDs. Throwing more picks than TDs is a sure way to have a losing record which is where Dallas (2-3) and Carolina (1-4) find themselves. Romo has a pedestrian 82.1 QB rating and Newton has a 80.9 rating.
Cam has been sacked 13 times this season and Romo has been sacked 9 times. Newton provides a unique run threat that the Dallas defense will have to account for in their preparation. Cam has 209 yards rushing this season which is second only to RG3 among QBs.
The Cowboys passing game has been more productive than the Panthers passing game with 287 yards/game compared to 223.
A KEY to the game: Every game that Cam Newton has thrown an INT, the Panthers have lost going back to his rookie 2011 season as well. However Dallas has not been very effective at getting INTs as Sean Lee, a linebacker, has their only pick this season. In that category Dallas is dead last in the NFL.
If Dallas can manage to get Cam to turn the ball over, it almost guarantees a win.
Scoring has been boring: Carolina and Dallas average 18 points a game which has them ranked 29 and 30 in the NFL. Clearly the offenses have struggled scoring points this season.
Dallas Discovered Running Game? The Cowboys have been one of the weakest teams in the NFL at rushing the ball so far this season but pounded out over 200 yards rushing against the Ravens last week. An isolated success or has Dallas figured out that their linemen like to run the ball down hill instead of finesse?
It think this week offers another excellent opportunity for Dallas to pound the ball as the Panthers haven’t defended the run well for two years. Their tackling is laughable at times and while they have a real find in rookie LB Kuechly, overall the team isn’t real tough against the run. Kueckly’s pursuit of the ball will remind Cowboys fans of their own Sean Lee.
The Panthers have allowed 127 yards a game rushing which is just a little better than how the Ravens have performed.
Unfortunately for Dallas, RB DeMarco Murray will miss the Panthers game with an injured ankle. Felix Jones who played his best game so far this season against the Ravens, will see a lot of carries. Felix had a TD and ran for 92 yards last week.
Undrafted rookie RB Lance Dunbar could also see action as he has displayed outstanding quickness and instincts in his limited opportunities. Dunbar could be a surprise to Panther defenders who can’t be looking for him to be as explosive as he actually is.
Panthers Defense: Charles Johnson and Dwan Edwards have been the Panthers most productive defensive linemen and C.J. had a monster game against the Falcons.
While the Cowboys secondary is top ranked in the NFL in yards allowed, the Panthers defensive secondary is ranked 19th. The Cowboys have a profound advantage in this area. Panthers middle LB Beason, once a pro bowler, has been a liability defending the pass this year as he isn’t the player he once was. Beason is expected to play against Dallas after suffering an injury. Whom ever Beason matches up with, is who Romo should give a serious look to when passing.
The Panthers have also had sub par play at safety this season as it is blamed by most Panther fans for why they lost to the Falcons.
A KEY to the Game: Dallas should do more play action pass since they ran the ball so well last week, and exploit the Panther safeties with deep passes.
Both teams need a win in the worse way and face miserable seasons if they can’t pull this one out.
Dallas Offense: Pound the running game like last week and play action pass deep to Dez and Austin on running downs occasionally.
Dallas Defense: Cowboys should match up well with Panthers WRs but be aware that Cam likes throwing deep to Steve Smith. Pressuring Cam with a good pass rush will pay off. The Panthers are playing without their excellent center Ryan Kalil.
Please no more 3 man rush scheme crap that doesn’t work. This week Ryan, bring the heat and get after Cam.