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Cowboys vs. Panthers: Five things to watch in the game The Dallas Cowboys will be playing football on Sunday in a real game that will count in the standings. Can you believe it? The time has finally arrived. The Cowboys will square off with their first NFC South team as they travel to Carolina to face the Panthers. The last time these teams met was in 2015 and the Panthers gave the Cowboys a 33-14 Thanksgiving beat-down. Carolina came into that game 10-0 and finished 15-1 en route to a Super Bowl appearance.The Cowboys are hoping for different results this time as they look to get off to a good start in 2018. It’s should be a great game as these teams are evenly matched Deonte Thompson Jersey Stitched , but what are some things that could be the difference maker? Here are five things to watch when these two teams square off.Panthers DT’s vs. Cowboys interior OLThe Cowboys were going to have their hands full with the Panthers stud defensive tackles Dontari Poe and Kawaan Short no matter what, but the absence of All Pro center Travis Frederick is going to make it that much more challenging. Backup center Joe Looney has been solid in relief, but when you consider that he’ll have rookie Connor Williams on his left, that can create a cause for concern for Cowboys fans as they fend off two former Pro Bowlers.The offensive line is such an important part of the Cowboys success. They need it working to get Ezekiel Elliott going and they need it to keep Dak Prescott upright. Winning the battle in the trenches is going to be key for Dallas on Sunday.Which will effectively influence...Cowboys first-down efficiencyThere is no secret that the Cowboys are going to employ a heavy does of the running game. Keeping quarterback Dak Prescott in manageable down-and-distance situations is going to be imperative and the Cowboys offense will need to win on early downs to make that possible. With the tough defensive front of Carolina, it’s going to be difficult for the Cowboys to move the pile. Dallas will need to work in some bootleg tosses, play-action Youth Marcus Martin Jersey , and quick passes in order to keep the Panthers from overloading against the run.If the Cowboys get stuffed early or have some negative plays that put them behind the chains, then their offense could be forced to play uphill. It’s going to be important for the Cowboys to be efficient on first down.Randy Gregory vs. Taylor MotonThe Panthers offensive line is beat up as several key starters are battling injuries. One of those key starters is left tackle Matt Kalil who was selected fourth overall in the 2012 NFL Draft (by Minnesota). On Tuesday, the Panthers put Kalil on injured reserve, making him unavailable to them for the first half of the season.That leaves second-year tackle Taylor Moton to protect Cam Newton’s blindside. While Panthers fans are pleased with the progress of last year’s second-round pick, Moton is very inexperienced and only played five snaps last year.Opposing Moton will be another second-round pick who doesn’t have a whole lot of playing experience himself - Randy Gregory. However, the Cowboys young edge rusher has hit the ground running once he was reinstated by the league and he’s ready to show the world what he can do. This will be an interesting battle to keep an eye on as how well these players perform will have a huge affect on how successful these teams can be this season.Double-down on double-deuceChristian McCaffrey can be explosive when he gets in space and the Cowboys defense will need watch this guy carefully. McCaffrey can beat you as a running back Marcus Martin Jersey Stitched , but he’s even more dangerous catching passes as the majority of his 1,000+ scrimmage yards last season came as a receiver. With Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicating that McCaffrey will get a heavy amount of touches, this could open things up for the second-year running back to have a big season.The Cowboys will counter that with the great explosiveness of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee. And with the improved movement from Jaylon Smith, the defense has a good core group of players who can go after the ball carrier. When it comes to McCaffrey, the Cowboys better allocate an extra defender to track his whereabouts. He’s a slippery littler sucker and if they don’t have an insurance policy in place when one guy misses, it could turn into a big play for Carolina.The rookie receiversThe Cowboys didn’t select fan-favorite D.J. Moore in the first round Youth Tavon Austin Jersey , but the Panthers did. Dallas opted to wait until the third round to draft their new wide receiver when they selected Michael Gallup with the 81st overall pick. How well will these young receivers fan in their NFL debut?Devin Funchess is the Panthers top receiving threat at the moment, but with with the talent of Moore, it’s only a matter of time before he starts becoming more involved in the offense. Cam Newton has a big arm and if Moore gets loose deep down field, it could result in a big play for the Panthers offense.The Cowboys have an assortment of receivers and could end up dressing all six of them on the roster. It’s unclear what Gallup’s role will be, but he developed some nice chemistry with Prescott in training camp. Can the rookie makes a splash in his first NFL game?What will you be watching on Sunday?Dez Bryant: They had Jason Witten as our No. 1 so Jerry is right It seemingly never ends when it comes to Dez Bryant and the Dallas Cowboys, even though the team released him back in April. On Tuesday morning Jerry Jones made waves when he noted that it had been “several years” since the Cowboys employed a “true No. 1” receiver. This obviously was of note considering that the Dallas Cowboys recently had Dez Bryant on their team and that he was regarded to be one of those.Predictably Tavon Austin Jersey Stitched , Dez Bryant responded on Twitter. That’s where we’re at in 2018. In his esteemed opinion if you play for the Cowboys you will never see targets like players on other teams. This is likely a reference to how run-heavy the squad is. Bryant is quick to remind us that he is “Mr. 73” which is of course a reference to him being the franchise’s all-time leader in receiving touchdowns. He talks about how he was “never schemed into things” and that he “made things happen throughout” his career. It will likely debated as to who was the “true No. 1” receiver for the Cowboys in the time that they had both Dez and Jason Witten, but the numbers prove that Bryant saw more targets despite playing in less games.The Cowboys play the Jacksonville Jaguars this week and they just signed Jamaal Charles. So we’ve also got that going on!

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