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Panthers vs Cowboys: Defensive Preview

The Panthers defense faces a very tough task for week 11, as they face off against a talented Cowboys offense.

NFL: Preseason-New York Jets at Carolina Panthers Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

The Panthers will face the Cowboys at home on Sunday, though it’ll likely be less of a home game as Dallas fans travel well, and Carolina’s current football product leaves much to be desire from an entertainment standpoint. One way to get the fans invested early on this weekend is for the defense to make some big plays, and their offense will need the help. Let’s dive in.

  • It would be really nice if Jaycee Horn plays: The Panthers activated CB1 Jaycee Horn off injured/reserve this week after missing the large majority of the season with a hamstring injury. As of the time of this writing, Horn logged a limited practice on Wednesday. Its tough to say whether he’s fully ready to play or not, as this opened a 3 week window for the Panthers to activate him. This would be a wonderful week for it, as the Cowboys sport CeeDee Lamb, Michael Gallup, and Brandin Cooks as their top WRs. They are 6th in the league in passing yards per game despite a pass/play percentage of 56.48% (22nd) per CJ Henderson could be back this week as well from his concussion, though he also practiced in limited fashion on Wednesday.
  • Get after Dak Prescott: The Cowboys are ranked 19th at QB sack percentage at 6.76%. This week, the Panthers appear on track to get Brian Burns back, meaning their pass rush could be about as healthy as all season with Marquis Haynes back in the lineup as well. The Cowboys offense often puts up points in bunches on the lower level teams they’ve played, meaning this game could be over at halftime if the defense can’t force some negative plays.
  • Limit the rushing attack as best they can: The Cowboys are currently around the top 10 in rushes per game, rushing yards per game, and rushing touchdowns per game. Objectively, this is a bad matchup for a Panthers defense that will likely be playing from behind early if the offense can’t get anything going, which has been par for the course from that unit. I think at this point they just have to tackle as well as possible and hope for the best. The best thing that can happen is for Dak to throw the ball more than the Cowboys run, as he can make some mistakes. The Cowboys have played mostly balanced football leaning more towards running the ball however, so that would be easier said than done.

What are you looking for, Panthers fans?