Gridiron Gab Week Seven Preview – Dallas at Carolina

The Cowboys Sunday have a critical matchup in Carolina, where they will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2010 when they take on the 1-4 Panthers and struggling QB Cam Newton.

Dallas sits in last place in the NFC East at 2-3. Last week they had a shot vs the Ravens in Baltimore to win a huge game vs the AFC North leading Ravens. They got to the Baltimore 34 with 26 seconds left and a timeout remaining, and managed only a 1-yard pass play and watched the seconds tick away before missing a 51-yard field goal.

“I know we missed the field goal and how close that was and how precious yardage was at the end of the day,” wide receiver Kevin Ogletree said. “So getting back to the line of scrimmage, maybe getting the play called, I think this will all be great for us going forward in learning a lesson.”

The Cowboys ran for 227 yards in Baltimore, but will have to do it against the Panthers without DeMarco Murray. The second-year starter is expected to miss Sunday’s contest after suffering a sprained left foot against the Ravens.

Felix Jones, who had 92 yards rushing last week in his first extended action of 2012, is likely to get the majority of the carries.

The Panthers are on life support at 1-4, and produced just 10 points in their last two home games, both losses to the Giants and Seahawks.

Newton finished with career lows in completion percentage (41.4) and passing yards (141) in a 16-12 loss to Seattle October 7th, with Carolina’s only touchdown coming on a Captain Munnerlyn interception return.

Among NFC starters, Newton is ahead of only Tampa Bay’s Josh Freeman and Seattle’s Russell Wilson with 1,154 passing yards. He ranks higher than only Chicago’s Jay Cutler and Freeman in the conference rankings with a 58.8 completion percentage.

Even with the trio of DeAngelo Williams, Jonathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert in the backfield, the Panthers are tied for 12th in the NFC in rushing attempts (128) and 10th in rushing yards (570). Newton leads the team on the ground with 209 yards and three touchdowns on 40 carries.

Getting the offense turned around could be difficult against a Dallas defense that leads the NFL in passing yards allowed per game (181.6) and ranks second in total yards (285.2). The Cowboys have given up more than 30 points in each of their last two games, though three of those TDs came with the defense on the sidelines.

Expect this to be a game where both teams play not to make mistakes. Problem right now is Newton is making too many of them, and a week off isn’t going to solve that.

Dallas 30 Carolina 18

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