Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dallas Cowboys vs. Carolina Panthers

Romo will look to snap a two-game losing streak in Carolina.
I'm personally still recovering from last week's defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens.  It's a game I feel like they should have won.  Eerily similar to last year's loss to the Pats coming off the bye week.  The Cowboys certainly didn't deserve to beat the Ravens because at the end of day it's about putting more points on the board than the other team, not racking up more yards than them.  The Ravens scored a lot of points with little time of possession and they deserve credit for it.  It says a lot to me that the Ravens can play mediocre for three straight games and come out on top.  Not only that, but the Cowboys couldn't have possibly played better than they played in Baltimore last week.

A win in Baltimore could have possibly made me think differently about this team's chances of competing for a playoff spot and maybe making a deep playoff run.  It's one of those measuring-stick type of games where you see how a playoff-hopeful team stacks up against a Super Bowl-contender that they normally don't play.  Yet I'm left feeling the exact same way as I did after the loss in Foxboro last season.  Makes me feel that this season will be just more of the same:  Good, but not good enough.  But let He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named tell it, the Cowboys can be a Super Bowl team despite this loss.  I'm not so certain.

I echo Skip Bayless' sentiments regarding Tony Romo and these Romo-era Cowboys.  I don't think I could have said it any better than Skip said it.  Something will always go wrong no matter how much good they do.  They may beat the Tampa Bays of the world, and maybe even the Carolinas, but what does it matter if they can't win the big ones like last week?


And speaking of Carolina, they are coming fresh off of a bye week after a disappointing 1-4 start to the season.  Yet, they are not last place in the NFC South division like these 2-3 Dallas Cowboys thanks to their lone win being against the 1-4 New Orleans Saints.

On the surface, it looks like one of those games the Cowboys should win yet they could lose.  The Cowboys know they can't afford to lose this game or their season is pretty much on life support.  The Panthers already know their season is pretty much over with the Falcons being so far ahead of the pack in the division as they are 6-0 heading into their bye week.  So every game from this point forward is playing for pride.  They'll look to put the Cowboys in the same boat as them at 2-4.  Cam Newton has a tendency to make such god-awful atrocious throws, but the Cowboys have a tendency of not forcing turnover-prone QBs into mistakes or "takeovers."  Hell, they don't force turnovers period.  Nearly dead last in the NFL in takeaways with only four in five games.  Something's got to give this week.

Keys to a Cowboy victory:

  • Get "takeovers."
  • The offense needs to show up like it did last week.  
  • Kill the Panthers will and the crowd early by scoring TDs and making stops defensively.
  • Don't make any stupid mistakes.
  • Get Romo going early.
  • Keep Cam Newton in the pocket.

Keys to a Panther victory:

  • Establish running game early.
  • Force multiple turnovers.
  • Cam must be a dual-threat to keep the Cowboys defense off balance.
  • Steve Smith must have a big game.
  • Win the Special Teams battle.

Key players for the Cowboys:

  • Anthony Spencer- Not sure if he's playing, but if he is, that's great news for the Cowboys' defense.  They will need his ability to stop the run and spy Newton in this one.
  • Sean Lee- He must keep an eye on Greg Olsen at all times.
  • Bruce Carter- He must make sure Cam Newton doesn't kill them with his feet.
  • Miles Austin- I feel like this is a week where Austin could have a field day against this secondary.

Key players for the Panthers:

  • Cam Newton- Pretty obvious, but Newton must play nearly flawless for the Panthers to win this game.  
  • Luke Kuechly- I'm curious to see how Luke does against a hot Cowboys rushing attack.  If he has a big game, he can help make the Cowboys one-dimensional.
  • Jordan Gross- How he plays against Ware will be critical in protecting Newton.  If he can keep Ware in check, Newton will have plenty of time to survey the field and possibly take off running for big yardage.  The Cowboys don't get much pressure from anyone outside of Ware.
  • DeAngelo Williams- The Panthers need the old DeAngelo to show up tomorrow.  The one who could take it to the house at any moment.  If they get DeAngelo going, the Cowboys could have a tough time stopping this offense.


This will be the first time the Cowboys face Cam Newton, so it won't be easy.  At this point, I wouldn't be surprised either way.  The Cowboys could blow the Panthers out or they could lose in a close one.  The day in the life of a Dallas Cowboys fan.   I say this game is nail-biting close with the Cowboys edging the Panthers 23-20.  I'm sticking to it.

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