With the Panthers coming into their game with Dallas owning the sixth-ranked pass defense and only having surrendered 11 passing touchdowns on the season vs. having one of the worst run defenses that has given up 15 rushing touchdowns, could we see a heavier reliance on the run game? Or do you think Mike McCarthy will continue with the hot hand and let Dak Prescott cook? – Randy Childs/North Grafton, MA
Patrik: I will always subscribe to seeing what the defense will allow, then you exploit that to open up the thing they won't allow. On paper, sure, this looks more like a game to establish the run, but I feel the level of play from Dak Prescott and CeeDee Lamb should not be stifled. The two are operating at an MVP level, individually, and it's kick-started the offense to being one of the best in the league. You don't mess with that mojo unless you discover that, in any given week, it's not working as It usually does. So I'd test the Panthers' secondary because there's no point in running from the fact you're going to have to go up against great secondaries in the playoffs, and that means this is a good chance to see how you fare against one that's nearly in the top-5. Use it as a test, but within reason, because if it's not going how you'd hoped, unleash Tony Pollard and Rico Dowdle to force them into defending the run to help soften the pass defense, so forth and so on. Go with the hot hand, because it's scorching right now.
Nick Eatman: I honestly don't think it's that complicated. McCarthy wants to move the football – plain and simple. The Cowboys will run the football and if they can be successful, they will continue to run. But teams will eventually take it away and when that happens, sure, Dak will get to cook, eat, and anything other food-consuming analogy you want to use. I just think the offense is designed to get plenty of weapons involved. Maybe the running game has a better game than usual but I see it being a complete attack once again. If the Cowboys jump out to a lead again, then of course, the running game will get plenty of chances. But I think the game plan is to come in and be versatile and flexible to take what is given.