Although the Dallas Cowboys record doesn’t reflect it, this Week 4 matchup with the Carolina Panthers should be between two undefeated teams. Sadly, a missed Greg Zuerlein 31-yard field goal in Week 1 against the Buccaneers, and a missed offensive pass interference call late in that game, are keeping that from happening. Despite that, these are two talented teams playing one another this week.
Put your money on the Cowboys this week. Not only do they have the homefield advantage, but they also don’t have to worry about the Panthers best player, Christian McCaffrey, because he’s out with an injury. Because of that, this is a game the Cowboys should win, but in order do so they must win some of the matchups listed below.
Cowboys secondary vs. Sam Darnold
The last time the Cowboys played Sam Darnold was back in 2019 when he was still the starting QB for the New York Jets. A lot has changed in the Cowboys secondary since then, but both Anthony Brown and Jourdan Lewis probably still remember Darnold completing 23 of 32 passes for 338 yards and two touchdowns in that game, including a 92-yard bomb to Robbie Anderson for a TD. Hopefully things turnout differently this time.
Sam Darnold and Robbie Anderson have reunited with one another in Carolina, but to date haven’t really connected the way they once did in New York. With Christian McCaffrey sidelined, that chemistry could heat up this week. The Cowboys secondary has given up some big plays this year, but hopefully they can force Darnold into making a few mistakes and continue their impressive streak of creating turnovers.
Trevon Diggs vs. D.J. Moore
Trevon Diggs, the NFC Defensive Player of the Month, has three consecutive games with an interception and could make it four in a row against the Carolina Panthers in Week 4 considering Sam Darnold’s tendency for turnovers in the past. But, to accomplish that goal, he may have to do it while covering one of the most underrated receivers in the game, D.J. Moore.
With Christian McCaffrey out this week, Moore becomes the Panthers most dangerous offensive weapon. He is a threat at all three levels on the field in the passing game and extremely dangerous after the catch. It may fall on Diggs’ shoulders to shadow him this week in the hopes of limiting his impact on the game. No. 7 is more than up to the task, but it’s still a matchup worth monitoring.
Micah Parsons vs. Cameron Erving/Tyler Moton
The Cowboys drafted Micah Parsons 12th overall this year with the thought of him being an upgrade at linebacker, but due to injuries he has spent the majority of his time at defensive end the past two weeks. To date, he leads the team with six QB pressures and has the 10th highest pass rush win rate (23.5%) in the league according to PFF. To say he’s been a pleasant surprise would be an understatement.
There is reason to believe Parsons will continue to excel as a pass rusher this week against the Panthers starting tackles Cameron Erving and Tyler Moton. Erving has been a journeyman OT this past several years, even spending a few seasons with the Cowboys. Neither he, nor Moton, possess the athletic ability to contain No. 11, so this is a matchup that should favor the rookie LB/DE.
Cowboys’ IOL vs. Derrick Brown
The Cowboys interior offensive line, particularly Connor Williams and Tyler Biadasz, have struggled at times with powerful defensive tackles through the first three weeks of the 2021 season. Last week their struggles even resulted in a defensive touchdown for the Philadelphia Eagles and that’s a trend that can’t be allowed to continue. Hopefully that happens in Week 4 against the Panthers, but that could be easier said than done.
Derrick Brown is yet another big, powerful DT who is probably looking forward to testing the Cowboys IOL in this Week 4 matchup. The Panthers 6’5”, 320 lb DT and former first-round pick in 2020 is a load to deal with at the point of attack and as surprising athletic ability for a player with his size. He could be trouble for the Cowboys if not contained in that task likely falls on the shoulders of Williams and Biadasz.
Dalton Schultz vs. Jeremy Chinn
Dak Prescott has a new security blanket in the passing game. Fresh off an 80-yard, two-touchdown performance against the Philadelphia Eagles, Dalton Schultz has emerged as a trusted target in the passing game for No. 4. Because of that, he now becomes someone defensive coordinators are going to have to game plan for each week.
This week, Jeremy Chinn will likely be asked to contain Schultz in the passing game. The 6’3”, 220 lb free safety definitely has the size to matchup with No. 86, which could make this an interesting matchup to keep track of. The battle between these two could sway the game one way or another, especially in regards to the Cowboys third-down efficiency.
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