Training camp has ended. The meaningless games are no longer. The 53-man roster is set. It’s time to go to battle.
The Dallas Cowboys will head to Bank of America Stadium to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers this Sunday. Dallas is looking to put 2017 behind them – a roller coaster of a season that had them finish at 9-7 and out of the playoffs. The Cowboys have managed to have a relatively quiet off-season in terms of any off the field drama, with the exception of the departures of Dez Bryant and Jason Witten and the Travis Frederick diagnosis of Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
According to Jerry Jones, the Cowboys may need to rely on their greatest offensive weapon – Ezekiel Elliott – this Sunday as there is expected rain throughout the game. The Panthers defense should never be overlooked. They have had arguably one of the best front sevens over the years. Once you get past the defensive line is where the real difficulty lies. Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis will be looking to stuff Elliott all game long and should be one of the main match ups to watch throughout the game.
The Hot Boys
DeMarcus Lawrence, fresh off his 14.5 sack season, and leader of the Hot Boys is ready get after Cam Newton.
“He’s big, he’s strong, he’s a great quarterback,” Lawrence said of Newton. “Our main job is just keeping him in the pocket and being us. You can’t worry about Cam, bro. Cam going to be Cam.”
Also, in case you were wondering if he has any sympathy about the injury situation surrounding the Panthers offensive line:
“It’s not my problem,” he joked to reporters while positioned in front of his locker stall at The Star in Frisco. “But you never want to see anybody (hurt). But it’s our opportunity. We’re not going to sit here and cry for them. We’ll say prayers for them, absolutely.”
Dak Prescott’s New Toys
We saw flashes of what Dak Prescott could have in store for us during the pre-season, but this will be our first full experience. The Cowboys lost Witten and Bryant during the off-season and responded by adding Tavon Austin and Allen Hurns. They also drafted the intriguing Michael Gallup, who has impressed all training camp and pre-season.
The Panthers main concern will obviously be limiting Ezekiel Elliott, so there could be some real one-on-one opportunities for our wideouts. Look for Cole Beasley and his expanded route tree to deliver not only this Sunday, but all season long.
This will be weird. No doubt about it. Dan Bailey did not make the 53-man cut and the Cowboys will now turn to Brett Maher as their lead foot. He actually went to training camp with the Cowboys back in 2013, only to lose the spot to Bailey.
“I was happy to hear the news, but at the same time, I’ve been on the other side of it too,” Maher said, via Jon Machota of the Dallas Morning News. “I wish Dan nothing but the best. He’s been great to me since I’ve been here. He’s a true professional and I understand what he’s meant to this organization. I’m excited to get to work.”
He looked impressive during the pre-season, making four out of his five attempts, including a 57-yard field goal. In a game that could very well come down to the end, he could find himself in a pivotal role down the stretch, which is something Cowboys fans are used to seeing when No.5 used to come out and kick.
Call me a homer if you want, but I really think the issues at the offensive line for Carolina will cause problems for Newton and his offense throughout. I think the young Cowboys defense will put pressure on him all day long, and the Cowboys offense will do their part just enough to squeeze out an early upset victory in Carolina. Cowboys win 24-20.
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