The Cowboys got back in the win column four days ago, and at 3-7 they're still in the NFC East race, trailing the first-place Giants by only two games. Standing in their way this Thursday at AT&T Stadium is the conference's only remaining unbeaten team, the 10-0 Carolina Panthers.
DallasCowboys.com staff writers Rob Phillips, David Helman, Nick Eatman and Bryan Broaddus give their gut feelings leading into the Cowboys' 48th Thanksgiving Day game:
Rob Phillips: Did you know the Cowboys have never faced an undefeated team on Thanksgiving in their 47-game holiday tradition? This is the kind of matchup Tony Romo, the competitor, thrives on. I know he's only getting three days' rest, and he's only started one game since returning from the collarbone injury, but you could see him lose the rust late in the first half against the Dolphins on his scramble-and-19-yard throw to Devin Street. I believe Carolina is the most complete team the Cowboys will play all season, and Thursday will go down as one of the all-time great Thanksgiving games. Here's my prediction: Romo and Cam Newton combine for seven touchdowns in a high-scoring game, and Romo's final TD is the difference. Carolina might be the best team in the league, but the Cowboys are 3-0 with Romo this year, and I'm sticking with No. 9. Cowboys 35, Panthers 31.
David Helman: At the very least, I think the Cowboys will make a better account of themselves this Thanksgiving than last year – it's not hard to improve on that horrendous showing against Philadelphia in 2014. That said, I'm not sure I like this matchup. With his mobility, Cam Newton is going to make things difficult for a pass rush that is already having consistency issues, and I don't think you can undersell the fact that Byron Jones may not be available to deal with Greg Olsen. The rookie has been so good at covering opposing tight ends, but it looks as though he'll spend the afternoon at cornerback. Meanwhile, the Panthers have a rock-solid and opportunistic defense that will make life difficult for the Dallas offense. I think Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis will limit Darren McFadden to less than 100 yards, and Josh Norman and the Carolina secondary will have success against Tony Romo and Dez Bryant. It'll be a fantastic game, but I think the Carolina defense will make a crucial play in the fourth quarter and Cam Newton will capitalize. My guess is that the Panthers grind out the clock for a close win – something like 24-20.
Nick Eatman: Well, when you go on record last week and say this team is going to run the table and make the playoffs, you certainly can't stop now. So, this one is pretty easy for me. I'm going with the Cowboys, and I'll pick them for the same reason that some people would lean towards Carolina. The fact the Panthers are undefeated sounds like a convenient reason to go with them. Well, I think the argument can be made the Cowboys are in the same boat right now. THESE Cowboys, this team with No. 9 running the show, hasn't lost yet either. I know it's only three games, but this is the team that was supposed to compete for the NFC title this season all along. So despite the 10-0 vs. 3-7 matchup, I call this Big on Big. For that reason, I'll pick the Cowboys because I think they're ready to make a run and I also don't expect the Panthers to remain undefeated. If they're going to lose a game somewhere, why not here. Look for Cole Beasley to have at least seven catches and a touchdown, I've got Greg Hardy with at least two sacks and Tyler Patmon is going to get a turnover this week. The Cowboys will race out to a nice lead in the first half – something like 14-0 or 17-3 – but will have to hold on in the second half for the win. Give me Dallas, 27-23.
Bryan Broaddus:I have gone back and forth on this game and its likely outcome. I think that both teams offensively put a great deal of pressure on the opponent's defense. I do worry about the Cowboys' ability to really slow down this Carolina offense, especially if it turns into a game where Cam Newton is making plays with his legs. If the Cowboys can turn this into a passing game then their chances for victory greatly increase. With all that being said – I do believe that the Panthers' defense is able to make a key stop or grab a late turnover that can send this game in their direction. This game is likely to be high scoring with the Panthers coming away with a 35-31 victory.