After yet another crushing loss in Week 6, Tony Romo and the Dallas Cowboys will try to get back in the win column on Sunday as they take on Cam Newton and his struggling Carolina Panthers. This remains a pivotal clash for both sides as they know another loss makes a playoff position in January a much tougher feat. How both teams respond to that pressure remains to be seen.
For the Cowboys, though they sit at a sub-par 2-3 record, you get the feeling it should be a tad higher. They’ve shown flashes of competent play in many of their games, but seem to struggle in the latter stages. It seems like a long time since that opening night rout of the Giants, and if the Cowboys don’t start playing better massive changes could be in store in Big D. On the injury front for Dallas, they’ll be without DeMarco Murray, while Dez Bryant remains questionable for this game. Felix Jones looked solid last week, and will step in for Murray. That said, look for the Cowboys to get outside linebacker Anthony Spencer back on the field. Spencer is a feared pass rusher, and does possess the skills to contain a talented guy like Cam Newton.
Speaking of Newton, despite his skills he knows the onus is on him to start ensuring his team plays better. This Carolina squad was considered a darkhorse for a playoff spot at the beginning of the season, but after a string of dismal outings time is certainly against them. Entering at 1-4 is surprising for Carolina, and if they are to make anything of this season it has to start this week against the Cowboys. It won’t be easy however for a Panthers team battling some key injuries. They’ve lost their Pro-Bowl centre Ryan Kalil for the season, while top cornerback Chris Gamble, and key linebacker Jon Beason remain out as well. The Panthers are 1-8 all-time against Dallas, and if they’re to live up to this season’s lofty expectations, that record must change Sunday afternoon.
Cowboys vs. Panthers Spread & Betting Odds:
Dallas Cowboys -2 (-110)
@ Carolina Panthers +2 (-110)
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Cowboys vs. Panthers Pick:
Both sides enter this contest heavily depleted at key positions, and have many players battling nagging injuries, but it’s the Cowboys that remain better-equipped to handle it. Dallas has been in every game and the expectations remain sky-high in Big D. Anything less than the playoffs would be an absolute failure, and this is truly a do-or-die game for the Cowboys. It’s time they start putting results together, and with their backs against the wall, expect a solid outing from America’s Team.
Sitting with a 2-3 record is tough for a Dallas team that ranks 2nd in defense, and 6th in offense. It seems odd to suggest that a team like the Cowboys is underrated, but this is a better team than most would think, and markets aren’t reflecting this.
Carolina has key injuries on defense, losing Chris Gamble and Jon Beason. Look for Tony Romo to exploit this. Miles Austin and Dez Bryant, if he plays, should have field days against a weak Panthers’ secondary. The Panthers also struggle to stop the run, and after how solid Felix Jones looked last week, the veteran could carve out a bigger role for himself down the line with a solid performance Sunday.
The Panthers have only once this season held a team from rushing for under 100 yards, so look for the Cowboys to hit them with a steady dose of the ground game. Dallas should control the tempo of this game, and wear down a very weak Carolina front-seven.
On defense, the Cowboys enter this contest with 10 sacks on the season and have a knack of getting to the quarterback with regularity. Pro-Bowler DeMarcus Ware leads the way with six, and Carolina will quickly realize how tough it’ll be to block him for 60 minutes. Cam Newton is prone to turnovers, especially this season, and look for Rob Ryan’s defense to pressure a weak offensive line without Kalil, and force Newton into mistakes. Carolina is 0-13 all-time when Newton throws an interception.
Expect Dallas to really step up with a solid performance in Carolina. Despite their scrutiny and recent struggles, this remains a top-10 team in the NFL, and it’s time they put the talent together to prove it. Look for Tony Romo to get the better of Carolina’s injury-riddled defense, en route to a convincing road victory. Dallas really cannot afford another loss with the Giants coming to town next week. Take the ‘Boys in a romp.
PICK = Cowboys -2 (-110)