Panthers

1. Shut down the Cowboys running game. The best part of the Panthers defense is the pass rush and to use that you have to shut down Zeke and Pollard. If they can make Dak have to throw with still not completely 100 percent from last year’s ankle injury and his shoulder injury making him throw 45+ times help your chances.

2. Protect Sam Darnold. Darnold is at his best when he can relax in the pocket and not run for his life. He’s looking like a competent QB with Carolina but it gets tougher on him Sunday. Darnold is without his best weapon Christian McCaffrey so him being able to make multiple reads on dropbacks is critical against the Cowboys.

3. Use pre-snap motion and play-action. Without McCaffrey, the Panthers are in for a tough matchup against a much improved Cowboys defense. Using pre-snap motion and play-action will help Darnold’s pass protection and should help his wideouts get separation as defenses get lost against the motion and LB’s and DB’s bite on the play-action leading to easy passes.

https://twitter.com/SamDarnoldStats/status/1439638998901686280

Cowboys

1. Make Sam Darnold miserable. Darnold spent the first few years of his career an utter mess with the Jets due to a wet paper bag for an offensive line. If the Cowboys can consistently get pressure on Darnold they could blow out the Panthers.

2. Have a balanced game plan. The Cowboys controlled the game against the Eagles on Monday and they did that with their approach on offense and defense. They leaned on the run game on offense as Dak only attempted 26 passes in the 41-21 victory. If you can keep Dak around 30 attempts you don’t wear him down and usually keeps you out of shoot outs which the Cowboys were in way too much last season.

3. Don’t give up the big play. With McCaffrey down the Panthers should use their speedsters at WR and take shots downfield. Dallas has to make Darnold work for everything all game don’t give him any easy passes due to blown coverage.

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