The Carolina Panthers will be as tough as any opponent this campaign has to offer. In these preview we highlight three key match-ups that will decide the winner.
Lets kick things off with the our biggest key match-up and work our way down.
1. Ezekiel Elliott vs Luke Kuechly
The Cowboys offense will run through Zeke as they look to become one of the best rushing teams in the league. Over the past 2 seasons Zeke leads the league in rushing yards even though he’s missed 6 games. He has a tremendous ability to break tackles and take it to the house on any given play. However, it could be a rough start due to them facing arguably the best linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly has built his legacy on being a tackling monster as he’s racked up over 100 tackles since entering the league in 2012. Luke has also made a name for himself for being a great leader and an even greater play caller. This is a crucial match up because of how much Dallas relies on the running game.
2. Cowboys secondary vs Panthers receivers
The safety position is still a very big question mark for Dallas. Xavier Woods won’t be playing which will leave Kavon Frazier to play along side Jeff Heath. Carolina has big play makers that stretch the field like newly aquired Torrey Smith. On the outsides Byron Jones and Chidobe Awuzie will have their hands full with Devin Funchess who excelled last season after the departure of Kelvin Benjamin. Rookie DJ Moore will also be looking to make a name for himself and show why he was the 1st receiver drafted this year. If the Panthers get their air attack rolling, it will be a long game. Lets see if coach Kris Richard’s methods prove to be efficient.
3. Cowboys Linebackers vs Panthers Running backs
Dallas ranked in the top 10 against the run in 2017. They’ll be trying to improve on that this season, but will have a tough match-up having to face Christian McCaffrey and CJ Anderson. Last season Anderson ran for over 115 yards against Dallas in week 2. Now Anderson is the backup, but still looks to have a role with the Panthers. McCaffrey on the other hand rushed for under 450 yards in his rookie campaign. His ability to catch the ball is what makes him dangerous for the Cowboys. McCaffrey had over 600 yards through the air last season and looks to continue his reign this year. To help limit this Jaylon Smith and Sean Lee will be the keys to handling these 2 runners. Smith has shown a great improvement with his direction shifting abilities this past off-season. Lee on the other hand has remarkable skills for recognizing plays before they develop. If Lee and Smith can lock down Anderson and McCaffrey they should come away with the win.
These match-ups won’t be easy for either team, but will be deciding factors at the end of the day. This is the first time in awhile that seems to hold more questions for Dallas’ offense rather than their defense as well. Cam Newton along with Dak Prescott will both look to carry their teams to a win, but only 1 of them can walk away undefeated. We hope everyone enjoys the game and if you have any other big match-ups let us know.
Ezekiel Elliott Picture Credit: The Associated Press
Luke Kuechly Picture Credit: JoeMontanasrightarm.com