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By: Walker Clement
Who do Cowboys fans think will win Sunday? The answer will not surprise you.
The Dallas Cowboys are a good team with a reputation for beating up on bad teams. The Carolina Panthers are unequivocally the worst team in the NFL. The league should institute a mercy rule to preempt injuries in a game like this, but here we are.
To get some context for just how bad this game might be for Panthers fans, I asked a series of sober questions of David Halprin over at Blogging the Boys. He, in turn, did his level best to toe the “any given Sunday” line that is the required humility of successful teams.
I didn’t buy it, but let’s see if you do.
The Cowboys have scored a combined 236 points to 19 points against seven teams (including the Giants x2) with losing records this season. Do you feel as confident as I do that Dallas can hit the over on this game (42.5 O/U at time of writing on Draftkings Sportsbook) by themselves?
It is certainly possible, but putting up 43 points or more in the NFL is a tough task, no matter who the opposition is during the game. The Cowboys offense doesn’t seem to perform quite as well away from their home stadium, so that could be a factor in the game. Most of those blowout wins with a large offensive output happened at home except for the first Giants game, so I am not overly-confident that the Cowboys will drop a 40-burger this week. Having said that, the Cowboys offense is in about as good a groove as I have seen in a long time, and some of the tweaks they made after the bye week are certainly paying off in offensive output.
The Cowboys have also played seven of their nine games against teams with a combined record of 19-48 and are now set to face a fearsome Panthers squad who are a whole 1-8. How did they get a schedule this easy?
They can only play the teams assigned to them, and as you know the NFL schedule is basically pre-determined in advance. They do have a really killer last part of the schedule where they play games against the Seahawks, Eagles, Bills, Dolphins and Lions. So the back part of their schedule is going to be a rough ride.
Quality of opponents aside, Dak Prescott is playing lights out football. Do the Panthers and a newly returned to the field Jaycee Horn have any hope of limiting him?
There is always hope in an NFL game. Prescott is currently playing about the best football we’ve ever seen from him, but things can always go wrong. Sometimes those things that go wrong have nothing to do with the quarterback. Poor protection from the offensive line can be an issue and the Cowboys have had that on occasion this season. There are also things like receivers dropping passes, or poor play-calling leading to a few wasted series along the way. Plus, players can just have one of those games where they are just off. Maybe he’s throwing interceptions, or he is off-target or making poor reads. So yes, I always say there is a chance, after all, the Cowboys did lose to the Cardinals earlier in the season.
Despite the team’s successes, they have struggled to get their running game into high gear. What is holding them back?
That is one thing where there have been plenty of theories, but it’s hard to say what the reason is exactly. Like most things, there are probably a few things that go into the mix. Earlier in the season, the Cowboys had some offensive line injuries where the lineup was switching almost every week. So play from backups mixed with no continuity probably had something to do with it. There is also the theory that Tony Pollard is more of a complementary running back and not a lead dog, but when the Cowboys released Ezekiel Elliott in the offseason, Pollard was elevated to lead back and took the bulk of the carries. That came with mixed results. The Cowboys gave some more carries to their RB2, Rico Dowdle, last week and that seemed to help the yards per carry average. The adjustments the Cowboys made after the bye also helped the entire offense, and by extension the running game. So it is getting better, but it has taken a while for it to come together.
All of Dallas’ losses have come on the road this season. Is there any chance that they leave their entire defense at the airport and let the Panthers sneak away with a win in Charlotte?
I’m always a believer that anything is possible in the NFL. I mean the Arizona Cardinals game earlier this year for the Cowboys is proof positive that a good team can have a bad day and lose to a bad team. In fact, it seems like there is a lot of that going on around the league this year, so it’s not impossible. But if you are asking me do I think the Cowboys will win on Sunday, yeah, I do. And do I think they will win comfortably? Probably, but don’t be surprised if it’s a little closer than you might think, The Cowboys offense can be a little sluggish on the road.
Originally posted on Cat Scratch Reader – All Posts