By Zach Walker
Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys
Thursday – November 26 – 3:30 pm CT
AT&T Stadium – Arlington, Texas
Who do the Cowboys need to shut down?
TE Greg Olsen – Greg Olsen is a top-five tight end in the league, and in terms of complete player, the closest a player gets to Jason Witten status as far as a complete tight end in the game. He’s called upon to be Cam Newton’s personal protector in a ton of situations, and with Cam’s constant lack of weapons, Greg Olsen has been there for his growing quarterback. Olsen has helped Cam carry the team to a ten win and no loss record, tops in the conference. Olsen isn’t a player that’s going to get lost on his route or miss an assignment. It’s a huge task to keep a lid on the Panthers’ top option.
Who on the Cowboys, needs to step up?
DE Greg Hardy – The Cowboys’ were probably expecting some more from their defensive end over the last two games than a half of a sack. Against his former team, however, Hardy should be pretty charged and ready to chase down his former team leader in Cam Newton, like only someone with his talents can. Not that Hardy would have any inside scoop on how his team is going to play, but he does know the personnel, and could give some tactical tips on how to approach them, having practiced against them. Hardy should be as amped up to play this game as any he’s ever prepared for.
Which group will give the Cowboys fits?
The Carolina Quarterback – I’d have put Cam in the top spot, as the player to shut down, but that’s just not going to happen. Sure, the Cowboys have some fire on defense, but this is a six foot six, two hundred and sixty pound man, who can launch sixty yard bombs, or pull it down and pick up as many yards as he wants to on a given play, cause who can take him on in space one-on-one? That person doesn’t play in the NFL yet. Actually, he does, he’s just Cam’s teammate. Newton is physics and evolution coming together on a football field, fighting for extra yards on a third down. He’s a beast and is going to take the Cowboys for a ride.
Which group will give the Panthers fits?
The Dallas Running Game – It’s funny, I was watching that Miami game and kept thinking that it seemed really familiar, and I remembered what it was. The Tennessee game from last year. Not a totally crisp game, but solid team building. This is the chance to get in the hunt, and they need to get back to pounding the rock. To close out the game, the Cowboys smashed their running backs against the Miami front, and drained a lot of the rest of the clock. They were confident running the ball again. Against the best linebackers in the league, Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, running the ball isn’t going to be easy or ideal, but it’s gotta be done. Robert Turbin is going to get more reps and that’s going to be better, because it’ll mean a fresher Darren McFadden, which means more speed.
What will it take for the Cowboys to win?
The Cowboys and Tony Romo need to get to the ball-control mentality again and take the strengths of the Panthers away. Attack their linebackers, knock their MVP-caliber quarterback around, and put the Panthers in awkward positions.
Prediction: Dallas 27 – Carolina 23