David Steele of the Sporting News is calling today's game a battle of unbeatens, because the Cowboys are 3-0 with Tony Romo (and 0-7 without him), while the Panthers are 10-0 for the season. Be that as it may, one team will lose the game, the other will win it. But which team will do what?
If we assume that the matchup today is indeed between the 3-0 Cowboys and the 10-0 Panthers, then there are many ways in which to assess the strength of each team, one of which is by using the Pythagorean Formula to make a win projection for each team (read up on all the details of the formula here). Here's what that projection looks like:
|Pythagorean Win Projection by 2015 performance
|Team||Points For||Points Against||Full season win projection|
Using the formula, the 2015 Panthers and the hypothetical 3-0 Cowboys are not that far apart, with the Panthers just 0.8 projected wins better. Will the Cowboys playing at home make up for that difference?
We'll find out later today. In the meantime, here's what our panel of experts expects to happen today.
|Name (Cowboys Accuracy)
Michael Smith, Pro Football Talk (8-2)
||In their last 28 games, the Cowboys are 16-3 when Tony Romo starts and 0-9 when he doesn’t. Unfortunately for Dallas, Romo now has to face perhaps the best defense in the NFL in the Panthers, and a loss on Thanksgiving will seal the Cowboys’ fate.|
Sam Farmer, LA Times (7-3)
||Carolina’s defense is the real deal, and Cam Newton is making few mistakes. With Tony Romo at quarterback, the Cowboys are improved and could win, but Panthers are a better team.|
David Steele, Sporting News (7-3)
||In a sense, this is being billed as a battle of unbeatens, because the Cowboys are 3-0 with Tony Romo (and 0-7 without him). The oddsmakers are billing it the same way: the Cowboys were still slight favorites as of Wednesday morning. Ron Rivera’s trying to use it as motivation. He doesn’t need to. Romo makes a big difference, but unless he becomes a Pro Bowl defensive player, too, the Cowboys’ defense isn’t going to slow Cam Newton enough. Maybe not at all.|
Elliot Harrison, NFL.com (7-3)
||Yep, you read that right. The Panthers finally drop a game. The Cowboys know they must string together wins to have any shot at the NFC East title after losing seven straight without Tony Romo. The outcome listed here is due to several factors:
1) Romo and the Cowboys' passing attack will present as large of challenge as any offense Carolina has faced yet.
2) Josh Norman hasn't yet faced a Dez Bryant-like receiver (with an adequate QB throwing him the ball).
3) The short week on the road after a blowout win plays to the Cowboys' favor.
4) The Panthers are due for a fall at some point. This matchup at AT&T Stadium presents their toughest matchup in the remaining schedule.
5) Don't worry, the Bucs' awful unis still won't catch Riverboat Ron's guys.
Pete Prisco, CBS Sports (6-4)
||This is a huge game for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving. They won Tony Romo's first game back, and he shook off some rust. Can it carry over against a good Carolina defense? I think it can. The Cowboys pull off the upset.|
Mike Florio, Pro Football Talk (5-5)
||The playoffs start for the Cowboys on Thursday. If so, they’ll be one and done. The Panthers are better than most will realize or admit, and Cam Newton will relish the opportunity to dance for a national audience that is dabbing the gravy from its collective chin.|
Greg Cote, Miami Herald (4-6)
||Dallas joined the holiday tradition in 1966 and hosts its 48th Thanksgiving game, while unbeaten Carolina competes in its first as only the second team ever to play on the holiday at 10-0 or better, along with the 2011 Packers. I’ve been guilty of underestimating the Panthers at times this year but still see them ripe for a first loss to a Dallas team that’s home and revitalized by the return of Tony Romo. Dallas has won nine in a row over the Cats, Romo is 6-2 on Thanksgiving, and Greg Hardy will lead ’Boys in a big defensive showing vs. his former team.|
Peter Schrager, Foxsports (4-6)
||Kudos to Cam Newton, who on Monday night, had an event where over 900 kids were fed Thanksgiving dinners and there was a "dabbing" contest in Charlotte. And kudos to Darren McFadden, who didn't necessarily have a long line of suitors piling up to sign him this offseason as a free agent, and is having a big year in Dallas. He helped Dallas hold on for its first win since September last week. McFadden won't get the same media love as Romo or even Dez Bryant or linebacker Sean Lee, but he may end up being the difference between being a playoff team and watching from home in January this season.|
Currently 63% of the media expert and algorithms tracked by NFLPickwatch.com favor the Panthers.That number may change as more picks are added to the total tally, or it may not.
In any case, how are you feeling about the Cowboys' chances?