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Big Picture: 10 Storylines for Cowboys & Panthers


The Cowboys are trying to build a winning streak as they head into the final stretch of games. At 6-3, they play at Carolina before a three-game homestand. The Panthers are just 1-8 this year with their lone win against Houston. Can the Panthers find a way to pull off the Texas sweep?

Here are the 10 big storylines for the week, with five for the Panthers and five for the Cowboys.


  • The Panthers enter Sunday's game with the NFL's worst record at just 1-8. They would certainly be the favorites to own the No. 1 overall pick next year, had they not traded it away to move up and take quarterback Bryce Young. But the Panthers' lone win this year was against Houston on Oct. 29.
  • Bryce Young has definitely had his share of issues as a rookie quarterback trying to lead a team short on talent. Young ranks 29th in the NFL in QB rating at 75.9. He's thrown just eight touchdowns and seven interceptions. The Panthers have scored over 20 points just three times in nine games, and not once since Oct. 15.
  • One of the players the Cowboys coveted in the 2021 draft was cornerback Jaycee Horn, who was taken by the Panthers at No. 9, one pick ahead of the Cowboys at No. 10. They then traded back two slots and drafted Micah Parsons. But Horn has battled through injuries in his three seasons, including a hamstring injury suffered in Week 1 this year. He's finally getting close to a return as the Panthers have designated him for return, meaning they've opened his 21-day practice window, although he could play this week if healthy.
  • A change of scenery has helped veteran receiver Adam Thielen, who has been the Panthers' most consistent offensive weapon. The 10-year veteran, who spent his first nine seasons in Minnesota, has 68 receptions so far. With just seven more this year, it would be the most in a single-season since 2018 when he caught 113, one of his two Pro Bowl seasons. Thielen also leads the Panthers this year with four touchdowns.
  • The Panthers' top pass rusher is clearly Brian Burns, who has five sacks already this year. He's coming off a career-high 12.5 sacks in 2022 and has at least 7.5 in each of his first four seasons. This year, he's had at least one sack in every other game. Burns did not record a sack last week, meaning he's due for another.


  • The Cowboys are looking to get on a much-needed roll as we head into Thanksgiving. With a 6-3 record, the Cowboys play three of the next four games at home, where they've won 12 straight. But before a three-game home stretch, they'll hit the road in Carolina to face the 1-8 Panthers. The Cowboys are trying to keep pace with the Eagles, who have a two-game lead in the NFC East.
  • Dak Prescott is seemingly on the verge of getting himself in the MVP conversation. Obviously, the Cowboys need to keep winning but the way Dak has played here in the last few weeks, including a 404-yard performance Sunday against the Giants that included five total touchdowns, it'll be hard not to include him at this rate.
  • Of course Dak's numbers are going to be off the chart if he's throwing to a player like CeeDee Lamb, who has been on another level lately. In fact, Lamb set an NFL record last week as the only player in league history to have 10 catches, 150+ receiving yards in three straight games. And if that's not enough for the Panthers to deal with, Brandin Cooks is coming off his best game of the season, catching nine passes for 173 yards and a touchdown.
  • Micah Parsons didn't seem too excited about his performance in last week's win over the Giants. Despite a dominating game by the defense, which produced a turnover and five sacks, Parsons was held without a sack or tackle on the official stat sheet. Look for him to be hungry for a big game when the Cowboys take the field in Carolina.
  • The Cowboys likely won't have linebacker Leighton Vander Esch for the rest of the season. LVE is currently on injured reserve with a neck injury but there was hope he could return at some point this season. Cowboys owner/GM Jerry Jones said on 105.3 'The Fan' on Tuesday that Vander Esch is not expected back this year and referenced the potential decisions the linebacker might have to make regarding his football career overall, considering he could be headed for his second neck surgery.

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