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Place: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina
Coming off a heartbreaking loss, the Dallas Cowboys need something positive – and the Carolina Panthers might be just the team to provide it. The Cowboys have won eight straight meetings between the teams, who will square off Sunday afternoon at Bank of America Stadium.
Dallas is looking to rebound from a 31-29 loss at Baltimore in which Dan Bailey missed a 51-yard field goal with two seconds left. The Cowboys’ second straight loss further deflated a team that had high expectations after a season-opening win over the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants.
Coming off its bye week, Carolina must do something quickly to salvage its season. The Panthers haven’t beaten the Cowboys since the teams’ first meeting in 1997, but they need to change that to hold out much hope of getting back into the playoff picture. They’ve lost three straight and are already four games behind NFC South leader Atlanta in the loss column.
Dallas Cowboys (2-3): Dallas has been sound statistically, ranking sixth in total offense and second in total defense, but it hasn’t always equated to success on the scoreboard.
The Cowboys rank ninth in the league in scoring offense (18.8) and 20th in scoring defense (23.8). Dallas lost running back DeMarco Murray to a foot injury last week, but Felix Jones picked up the slack with 92 yards and a touchdown. Jones is likely to be called upon again, with Murray missing practice Wednesday and Thursday and expected to miss Sunday’s game.
Carolina Panthers (1-4): Carolina is still built around quarterback Cam Newton, who leads the team in rushing (209 yards), but that blueprint hasn’t been as effective as it was during his rookie season.
Newton has thrown five interceptions and he hasn’t been able to close out games like he did last year, as Carolina has lost three games by six points or less. The defense has struggled as well, and will have its hands full with Dallas’ balanced attack.
1. Dallas WR Dez Bryant had a career-high 13 catches and matched his career best with two touchdowns last week.
2. Carolina WR Steve Smith has topped 130 receiving yards twice against Dallas.
3. Cowboys LB DeMarcus Ware has five sacks in three career games against Carolina. Ware has 97.5 sacks since 2006, the most in the NFL.