The Cowboys are playing some great football right now, but they have a road trip to Charlotte to take on the league-worst Panthers right before a quick turnaround to play the Commanders on Thanksgiving. This has some concerned that the Panthers could become a trap game.
The Cowboys are once again heavy favorites, with a 10.5 point spread that’s pretty large for a road team. That’s not surprising, given how bad the Panthers have been all year and how well the Cowboys have been lately. But are any of our writers concerned about this one? Let’s find out.
When Carolina has the ball
Make Bryce Young uncomfortable in the pocket
The Panthers offense has struggled mightily all season, and first overall pick Bryce Young has been at the center of it all. To be fair to Young, he’s been saddled with a rather uninspiring supporting cast and is about to go through another change in offensive play-caller.
Still, Young has failed to deliver in big moments this year. He’s been especially susceptible when under pressure, which is unfortunate considering the state of his offensive line. He has the second worst completion rate under pressure and only Daniel Jones has a worse passer rating when under pressure. The Cowboys flustered Jones, and other quarterbacks, with their relentless pass rush in the past. If they can generate similar penetration, there won’t be much for the Panthers to do in response.
When Dallas has the ball
Keep the run game going
The Cowboys’ biggest offensive weakness, their run game, has seen mild improvements each of the last three weeks. They had their best showing last week, when Tony Pollard had a more even share of carries with Rico Dowdle. Whether or not that remains the case this week, the Cowboys should be able to succeed on the ground.
The Panthers are one of the worst teams against the run, ranking 31st in run defense DVOA. Opposing offenses have gashed them when they’ve been able to get into the second level, which happens at a frequent rate. If Dallas can just win at the line of scrimmage, Pollard and Dowdle (and maybe Deuce Vaughn?) will have plenty of open space to roam.
Now onto the predictions from your BTB writers...
Tom Ryle (5-4):
I think the Giants game makes any possibility of the Panthers being a trap game extremely remote, and they are another overmatched team facing the Cowboys. McCarthy’s killer instincts really came out against New York, and that needs to continue.
It is on the road, however, where all the losses and really bad performances have happened for Dallas. That could lead to a real conflict between leaning into the aggressiveness or being more cautious.
Still, I think the Cowboys will win this easily by a couple of touchdowns, or maybe more.
Tony Catalina (8-1):
The Cowboys handled business last week against a vastly inferior team, and while the Panthers aren’t nearly as inept at the QB position as the Giants were, the Cowboys should able to do something similar.
Leave room for a slow start as they travel East for an early kickoff, but don’t be fooled - the Cowboys can and will handle business in Carolina this week.
Give me a 30-17 win.
Matt Holleran (7-2):
I think we see the Cowboys build off their dominance from last week in this game. Carolina’s offense has been a mess and I don’t see them putting up enough of a fight to keep this one close. It won’t be the rout that it was last weekend but Dallas wins this one comfortably.
Give me the Cowboys, 26-13.
Matthew Lenix (6-3):
Despite their 1-8 record, the Carolina Panthers are ranked seventh defensively, sixth versus the pass. However, they’re 26th against the run, so the Dallas Cowboys have another opportunity to get their running game rolling like the 168 yards they had against the New York Giants. Where the Panthers will get in trouble is their 30th ranked offense, which I feel will create quick drives and short fields for Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense.
Dallas wins big 38-10.
Mike Poland (6-3):
The Cowboys offense have eight rushing touchdowns this year, ninth-most in the NFL. The Panthers defense has allowed 15 rushing touchdowns, second-most in the NFL. The other way around, the Cowboys defense has allowed seven rushing touchdowns this year, fifth-fewest. The Panthers offense have scored two rushing touchdowns this year, second-fewest in the NFL.
In fact, the Panthers have failed to score a rushing touchdown in their last three games, the lowest in the league in the last three weeks. The Cowboys offense is scoring 30 points per game, second-most in the NFL. While the Panthers defense is allowing 27 points per game, which is third-worst. The Cowboys will score quickly and use the Panthers poor run defense against them to control the game.
Cowboys win 33-17.
Brian Martin (6-3):
This Week 11 matchup with the Carolina Panthers is shaping up as if it could be a trap game for the Dallas Cowboys. Just kidding. This might be the most winnable game for the Cowboys this season. The Panthers are really bad and shouldn’t stand much of a chance this week.
Cowboys win 38-3.
RJ Ochoa (7-2):
This should be a pretty easy week for the Cowboys but obviously that is always easier said than done. Carolina just does not appear to be able to run shot for shot with the big teams, so here’s hoping Dallas does not open the door of opportunity for them.
Give me the Cowboys along the lines of 27-16.
David Howman (5-4):
Count me among those who is legitimately worried about this being a trap game. Frank Reich is a sharp coach, and Bryce Young has legitimate talent, and these Panthers have to figure it out at some point. With this being an early game on the road right before Thanksgiving, it’s more than enough to make me nervous.
That said, the actual football side of things makes me less nervous. The Panthers’ weaknesses play right into the Cowboys’ strengths, and if both of these teams are playing at full energy, this should be a massacre. Much like the Cardinals game in Week 3, the only way the Cowboys lose this one is if they beat themselves. I think (hope?) that they’ve learned that lesson.
Cowboys win 37-13.