Week 7: Dallas Cowboys At Carolina Panthers
- QuarterbackThe Cowboys lost again in their Week Six matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, but Tony Romo bounced back with a solid game. He shook off his five-interception performance against Chicago and played with confidence and threw the ball with accuracy. If he can get half-decent protection from his line and his receivers cooperate, Romo should be ready for a big game.The Panthers are struggling on offense and Cam Newton has not found his way so far this season. While he is a gifted athlete with a plus-arm, he is struggling with his accuracy and timing. The Panthers are getting frustrated waiting for him to demonstrate his talent the way he did as a rookie last year.
- OffenseThe Cowboys rediscovered their running game in the 31-29 loss to the Ravens. Running back DeMarco Murray carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards. Dez Bryant is a big-play wide receiver with a boatload of athletic talent. However, he doesn’t always carry out his assignments properly. Tight end Jason Witten remains Romo’s most dependable receiver.The Panthers have the talent to put a dependable ground game on the field. In addition to the running of Newton, DeAngelo Williams is an explosive back and Jonathan Stewart is a dependable change-of-pace runner. Steve Smith may be getting older, but he still runs his pass patterns with speed and toughness. He needs more help from Brandon LaFell and tight end Greg Olsen.
- DefenseThe Cowboys try to beat you with speed on defense. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows where opponents want to go and he does a very good job of playing the chess game and having his players in the proper position. Heat-seeking missile DeMarcus Ware is still the most dangerous defender on the Cowboys and is still one of the best defensive players in the game.The Panthers have a speedy defensive team and they have talent in their hard-hitting linebacking crew. The most important player may be rookie Luke Kuechly who can be a tackling machine and is almost never in the wrong spot. Veteran Jon Beason remains one of the hardest hitters in the game.
- Special TeamsThe Cowboys got victimized on special teams in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens when Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Cowboys are not getting much from their own return specialists and placekicker Dan Bailey is just average.The Panthers have not turned to placekicker Justin Medlock very often this year. He has made just 2-of-2 attempts this season. Punter Brad Nortman does not have a huge leg, but he is skilled at placing the ball inside the 20-yard line.
Both teams are at critical points in their season. The Cowboys are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens following their bye week. The Panthers have not been consistent this season and Ron Rivera must come up with an answer quickly or the season will quickly disappear. The Panthers must force turnovers from Romo if they want to win this game.