The Dallas Cowboys head east to play the one-win Carolina Panthers in the early slate of games this Sunday. This should be another game where the Cowboys have a huge advantage which should bring us lots of things to cheer for. Here are five things to watch when the Cowboys play the Panthers on Sunday.
1. ANOTHER BLOWOUT
Beating the New York Giants by 32 points was quite satisfying, but let’s face it, those boys in blue aren’t a good football team. They are ranked dead last with a DVOA of -47.3%. Things shouldn’t be that much tougher going against Carolina as they are second-to-last in team DVOA at -34.3%. The Panthers defense has given up the third-most points this season and their offense has scored the fourth-fewest points. This team is bad on both sides of the ball. And when you consider they traded away their top offensive playmakers last season in Christian McCaffrey and D.J. Moore, it’s hard to imagine this team posing any type of threat to the Cowboys.
2. YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS
Unfortunately for Bryce Young, he doesn’t have a very good running game to lean on. The RB duo of Miles Sanders and Chuba Hubbard combine to average 67 yards per game. A poor rushing attack plus a negative game script means this team doesn’t do a lot of running. The Panthers throw the ball 64% of the time, third most in the NFL. This likely won’t provide favorable situations for their rookie quarterback.
Panthers quarterbacks have been sacked 32 times, fifth-most in the NFL. The Cowboys' defense pressures opposing quarterbacks at a higher rate than any team in the league and Young struggles immensely against pressure with a passer rating of just 43.9 when under duress.
3. STAY HOME
If you can envision this Panthers offense having success against the Cowboys' defense, it will come from an undisciplined group of overaggressive defenders. This is something we’ve seen before as teams have found holes in the defense when one of the Cowboys' defenders is caught with his hand in the cookie jar. If you look at the one real scoring drive the Giants had last week before the Cowboys starters came out, it was built off nice runs, including quarterback scrambles after the pocket collapsed. If the defense’s eyes get too big and start blitzing, the Panthers might be able to capitalize as Young has done a good job against extra rushers. It might seem like more fun to bring the house, but good discipline on defense will serve them well.
4. OVER 200 YARDS ON THE GROUND
Last week, the Cowboys' rushing attack looked a lot better as both Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle found some nice holes between the tackles. As a team, they finished with 168 rushing yards, their second-best performance of the season. The Panthers' defense is decent against the pass (ranked 12th in yards per attempt), but is more susceptible against the run (ranked in the bottom 10 in yards per rush). If the Cowboys get up early, and they should, they will lean heavily on their running game and we could see a large output between Pollard, Dowdle, and possibly even Deuce Vaughn if active.
5. UNLEASH THE BACKUPS
Of the Cowboys' six wins this season, five of them have been by 20 points or more. Three of those wins have been by at least 30 points. When the Cowboys win, they usually win big and this game has all the makings of that. Look for Dak Prescott to be donning his fourth-quarter hat as they turn the keys over to the backups. This could mean some extra targets for players like Jalen Brooks and Luke Schoonmaker. It would also allow them to see a little more from defenders like Juanyeh Thomas and recently signed linebacker Rashaan Evans. And while this is highly unlikely, how fun would it be if the Cowboys made third-string quarterback Trey Lance active and gave him some reps in garbage time?
And considering they play the Washington Commanders a few days later on Thanksgiving, it would be nice to give their starters some extra rest.