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Indianapolis Colts v Carolina Panthers

by Sharon Thorsland

The Panthers return home Sunday looking to get back on track after their Thursday night loss to the Bears. It won’t be easy, though, as they’re taking on America’s team – the Dallas Cowboys. The Cowboys are one of the best teams in the NFC at 6-3 on the season. They;re coming off a dominant Sunday night win over the Giants that saw them put up 640 total yards and 49 points, and they’ve got a ton of talent on both sides of the ball.

Pro Bowl quarterback Dak Prescott leads the way, he’s thrown 17 touchdowns with six interceptions and also has two rushing touchdowns. His favorite receiver is fellow Pro Bowler Ceedee Lamb, he’s got four straight games with at least 117 yards and has 975 yards on the season with four touchdowns. Lamb teams with veterans Brandin Cooks and Michael Gallup, and second year tight end Jake Ferguson is also a key part of the offense, he’s got 36 catches with four scores. They’ll face a Panther defense that you might be surprised to hear ranks 6th in the NFL allowing just 176 passing yards per game. The Cowboys also have an excellent run game anchored by Tony Pollard. Panther defensive coordinator Ejiro Evero said you can try to take away Lamb but then what? “The issue is when you play a team like Dallas, it’s like okay – we can roll the coverage over there (to Lamb) but then they’ve got Cooks and they’ve got Gallup and they’ve got a run game,” said Evero. “They’ve got a quarterback that can beat you with his legs. And that’s what makes it such a good offense, there’s nobody you can zero in on.”

The Cowboys defense is just as good as its offense, ranking third in the NFL allowing just 275 yards and 18 points per game. They’ve got an aggressive pass rush led by star linebacker Micah Parsons, who has 7.5 sacks. Veteran defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence anchors the front line. That pressure on quarterbacks has helped the Cowboys limit opponents to just 166 passing yards per game, that second in the NFL. All-Pro cornerback (and former Panther) Stephon Gilmore teams with second year player Da’ron Bland, who leads the team with five interceptions, three of them returned for touchdowns. Hard-hitting safety Donovan Wilson teams with veteran Malik Hooker and former Clemson standout Jayron Kearse. “They’re really good, talented,” said Panther receiver DJ Chark..” They’re just making plays. We have to come in a execute and play with confidence and give it all that we have.”