Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers
Sunday, September 9, 2018 – 4:25 pm Eastern TV: Fox, NFL Sunday Ticket
Bank of America Stadium – Charlotte, North Carolina
Opening Line: Carolina -2 1/2
Current Line: Carolina -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 44 1/2
Current Total: 42
Opening Money Line: Panthers -133 / Cowboys +113
Current Money Line: Panthers -150 / Cowboys +130
The Carolina Panthers host the Dallas Cowboys Sunday in the season opener for both teams. Dallas leads the series 9-4 but they haven’t played since 2015. The Panthers won that meeting 33-14 to snap a five game losing streak to the Cowboys.
Carolina went 11-5 last year under coach Ron Rivera. The Panthers were tied for the division lead with the New Orleans Saints, but New Orleans won the tiebreaker. The Panthers would lose 31-26 in New Orleans to the Saints in the wild card playoffs. Carolina went 3-1 in the pre-season.
Dallas went 9-7 under coach Jason Garrett. The Cowboys were second in the NFC behind the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles. Dallas narrowly missed the playoffs. The Cowboys went 0-4 in the pre-season.
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Dallas outscored opponents 22-21 last season. The Cowboys were #8 in points allowed and #14 in scoring. Dallas averaged 332 yards per game on offense including 196 passing and 135 rushing yards. The Cowboys were #2 in rushing offense. On defense, the Cowboys allowed 318 total yards per game including 214 passing and 104 rushing yards. Dallas was #8 in both total and rush defense. Dallas was 97/222 on third and fourth conversions and opponents were 94/223. Dallas forced 38 sacks and allowed 32 last season. The Cowboys were -1 in turnovers.
Quarterback Dak Prescott completed 62.9% of his passes for 3,324 yards with 22 touchdowns and 13 interceptions, along with 57 carries for 357 yards and six touchdowns. He was sacked 32 times. Cooper Rush is the backup.
Running back Ezekiel Elliot had 242 carries for 983 yards and 7 touchdowns, plus 26 catches for 269 yards and 2 touchdowns. He missed six games due to a suspension last year. Rod Smith had 55 carries for 232 yards with 4 touchdowns, along with 19 catches for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Receiver Dez Bryant had 69 catches for 838 yards and six touchdowns. He was released in the off season and has yet to sign with a team. Receiver Terrance Williams had 53 catches for 568 yards and no touchdowns. Tight end Jason Witten retired to become the analyst for ESPN on Monday Night football. He had 63 catches for 560 yards and 5 touchdowns. Geoff Swaim and Blake Jarwin will take over at tight end. Cole Beasley had 36 catches for 314 yards and 4 touchdowns. The Cowboys signed free agent receiver Allan Hurns from the Jacksonville Jaguars and drafted rookie Michael Gallup. Both will contribute heavily. Eight defensive players and three offensive linemen are listed on the injury report. All-Pro center Travis Frederick is out indefinitely with a serious illness.
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Carolina outscored teams 23-20 last season. Carolina was #7 in points allowed. The Panthers averaged 324 total yards per game on offense including 192 passing and 131 rushing yards per game. Carolina was #4 in rushing. Carolina allowed 317 total yards per game on defense including 229 passing and 88 rushing. The Panthers were #7 in total offense and number #3 in rushing. The Panthers were 98/233 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 85/226. Carolina forced 50 sacks and allowed 35 sacks last season. The Panthers were -1 in turnovers.
Quarterback Cam Newton completed 59.1% of his passes for 3,302 yards with 22 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and had 139 carries for 754 yards and 6 touchdowns. He was sacked 35 times. Garrett Gilbert is the backup.
Rookie running back Christian McCaffrey had 117 carries for 754 yards and 6 touchdowns, plus 80 catches for 651 yards and 5 touchdowns. He takes over as the feature back from a Jonathan Stewart who signed with the New York Giants. Cameron Artis-Payne will get the backup carries.
Receiver Devin Funchess had 63 catches for 840 yards and 8 touchdowns. Tight end Greg Olsen had 17 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown. He missed most of last year with an injury and is questionable with a back injury. The Panthers signed receiver Torrey Smith who will start opposite Funchess. Five defensive players are listed on the injury report along with five offensive linemen.
These two teams have numerous injuries on the offensive and uncertainty at receiver. They could be dark horses in the NFC as both have a lot of talent. Both teams will be improved on defense and I like the Cowboys to pull off the upset in a low scoring game.