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Cowboys Need Win Against the Panthers And Will Get It

Maybe it’s a bold statement, after all the Cowboys are coming off a bad loss last week against the Eagles where the Cowboys failed to score a touchdown for the first time all season, but they will beat the Carolina Panthers. Not just because they are that much better of a football team than Carolina, but because the Cowboys need the win now more than they needed it last week.

At 12-2 the Cowboys still have control over their own destiny. If the Cowboys can win the next two games they are guaranteed home field advantage through out the playoffs. If the Green Bay Packers should, by miracle, act of God, or any other unforeseen circumstance, lose Sunday and the Cowboys win against Carolina they will be guaranteed home field advantage in the playoffs. Either scenario though, requires the Cowboys to win against the Panthers.

So what are the Cowboys up against Saturday night? Just the 12th ranked defense in the NFL, and 17th ranked rush defense in the NFL. Matt Moore, who was with the Cowboys in the off-season, will be taking the helm again as the QB for the Panthers, and will be looking for a second week of mistake free football.

While the Carolina defense has been doing well this season, their offense has struggled. They rank 28th in points with an average of 15.9 per game this season, 29th in total yards and 28th in passing yards. Matt Moore seemed to give the Panthers a spark last week against Seattle, and could very well give them some spark against the Cowboys this week.

Keys to a Cowboys win:

Forget the rushing numbers the Cowboys have put up this season; they have won the games they won this season through the air. This Cowboys team is a passing team, and they will need to find their rhythm early to beat the Panthers. The Cowboys will run enough to keep the defense honest but believe me when I say they will win this game through the air.

The offensive line will have an easier time blocking for Romo if Julius Peppers is out this week, and that will give Romo even more time to pick apart the defense with his receivers Witten, Owens, and Crayton and Marion Barber, and Julius Jones as reliable check down receivers.

If Tony Romo’s thumb is still bothering him a little on Saturday look for Jason Garrett to run a slightly more scaled down offense, using shorter passes to his check down guys, and only occasionally attempting a 20-40 yard pass to get the defense from crowding.

On the defensive side of the ball the Cowboys are going to come out blitzing. They will be bringing blitz packages with Ellis, Ware, and Bradie James through out the first half to really torment the young Matt Moore and keep him as off balanced as possible through out the half. The Cowboys defensive front will need to work hard to contain DeShawne Foster and DeAngelo Williams to slow down that rushing tandem.

Keys to a Panthers win:

This is a copycat league, but Philly didn’t really do anything special against the Cowboys offense. Though they might try to bring in some different blitzes through out the game to keep Romo off balanced, and to get him to have a similar performance as last week. If the Panthers want to contain the passing game, they may try to employ a cover two defense through most of the game. Keeping Terrell Owens and Jason Witten in front of them and only give up the shorter yardage plays. Other teams this season have shown that you can’t just double team Terrell Owens, because Jason Witten will get open, or the other way around. Not giving up the big passing plays will be the biggest key to the game, though inviting Jessica Simpson (according to some analyst) might be the other strategy. We’ll ignore the fact that she was at the Packers game and Jets game.

On the offense side of the ball look for them to attempt to take advantage of the Safety Keith Davis who will be filling in for the suspended Roy Williams. The Panthers will also look to pound the ball more on the ground to exploit the Dallas run defense which has looked vulnerable the last two weeks. Matt Moore will need to find his go to guy Steve Smith, and avoid any rookie mistakes again for a second straight week.

Prediction Time:

Matt Moore will have a decent game, but the Dallas Cowboys offense will find there niche again. Look for Ken Hamlin to get 1 interception, DeMarcus Ware and Greg Ellis to combine for 3 sacks in the game.

Cowboys win this game 34-14

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