Carolina Panther at Dallas Cowboys

NFL Football Betting Preview
Carolina Panthers (0-2) at Dallas Cowboys (1-1)
Monday September 28th, 8:35PM Eastern betting line – Dallas -9.5, 47.5 O/U

The Dallas Cowboys failed to capture a win in their regular season debut inside the new billion dollar Cowboys Stadium falling to the New York Giants 33-31. The loss likely hard felt has to be put behind as the Cowboys as they prepare to take the main stage again this Monday night when they host the Carolina Panthers. Carolina led the NFC along with the Giants at 12-4 at the end of the regular season just one year ago. However, the Panthers have taken a different path early in the 2009 season dropping their first two games as they remain on the hunt for their first victory.

Outside of the Panthers on the field struggles thus far in the season, they face some more road blocks heading into Monday night’s battle. Linebacker Na’il Diggs, strong safety Chris Harris, fullback Brad Hoover, and rookie defensive end Everette Brown are all not expected to play as they are banged up with injuries. The Panthers who were considered by some to be the best team in the NFC South definitely can not afford to drop to 0-3 and they are in a must win situation. However, they have a tough mountain to climb without some key starters and a struggling offense that has yet to play well.

QB Jake Delhomme threw 4 interceptions in the Panthers opening blowout loss to Philadelphia. Delhomme has been under the microscope since throwing 5 picks in the Panthers opening round playoff loss at the end of last year. Delhomme bounced back somewhat last week completing 61% for 308 yards. However, Delhomme was only able to get 1 touchdown through the air despite the 300 yard performance and also had another pick. The Panthers quarterback has now thrown 10 picks in his last 3 games dating back to last year. However, hopefully the Panthers quarterback can shake early season troubles against a defense that just produced 8 interceptions all of last year (3rd worse in the NFL).

If the Panthers offense is to establish success, most likely it will be on the ground. DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart may be the best duo in the NFL combining for over 2,300 yards in 2008. Williams is the most explosive of the two and will get the most touches. However, that is not to downplay Stewart who is averaging 5.0 yards per carry on 20 attempts this season. Carolina needs both of these two guys to have a big game and take some pressure off of the passing game. Still, when Delhomme does drop back he will be looking to get the ball in the hands of Steve Smith. Smith is an electric playmaker that has carried the passing game on his back for some years. Smith has reached the 1,000 yard plateau in 4 straight seasons and knows how to find the end zone so expect the Panthers to try and get him the ball to make some things happen for a team searching for a boost.

The Cowboys on the other hand have to be careful given their condition. They are in a letdown situation coming off a last second loss to an NFC East division rival and now taking on struggling 0-2 football team. However, the Panthers are still a solid bunch and that can not be forgotten. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of the defense has been their inability to get in the backfield. The Cowboys led the NFL with 59 sacks in 2008 and OLB DeMarcus Ware also led the league with 20 solo sacks. However, Dallas is the only team in the NFL yet to record a sack in their first two games. It is imperative they get in the Panthers backfield and force Delhomme to make mistakes. The Cowboys have been less than stellar on the defensive side of the ball allowing 438ypg in just two outings as well. Of course early in the year statistics can be misleading, but the Dallas defensive front has simply not looked near as good as expected.

One of the big concerns heading into the season was who would step up at the wide receiver position and be the home run threat the offense needed? The question still may have not been answered individually. However, the Cowboys have gotten solid production from Patrick Crayton, Roy Williams, and the always reliable tight end Jason Witten. Witten leads the team with 10 catches, but Crayton, Williams, and Miles Austin are all averaging 20 plus yards per catch. Romo has been scrutinized for not being the superstar that media has perceived him to be. Romo threw 3 picks in last weeks loss and the interceptions are nothing new for Romo. The Cowboys quarterback has not thrown an interception in just 6 games dating back to the end of the 2006 season. Romo needs to limit his habit of throwing dangerous passes and give the Cowboys offense a bit more ball control. Another portion of the game to keep an eye on is the Cowboys rushing game. Marion Barber may sit out due to a quadriceps injury giving the work load to Felix Jones and Tashard Choice. Jones has just 13 carries on the year, but has put up 113 yards in the limited action and is also perhaps a bigger explosion threat than Barber. The loss should not hurt the Cowboys unless Jones is to wear down late in the game when Barber is known for playing his bet football.

Pick – Dallas owns the series winning the last 7 regular season meetings. However, given the letdown affect believe the game will be closer than expected. Cowboys should win, but likely they do not cover the points. Take Carolina +9.5