Saturday, December 22, 2007

Quick Take: Dallas at Carolina.

After seeing their seven-game win streak come to a abrupt halt against Philadelphia last Sunday, the Cowboys look to not only get back on track tonight, but take a big step towards clinching home field in the NFC when they take on the Carolina Panthers tonight.

For Carolina, the stakes are pretty high, as they need a win to keep their slim postseason hopes alive.

Dallas is 6-0 on the road this season, and the signs point towards the Cowboys rebounding from their atrocious offensive performance last Sunday in the 10-6 loss to the Eagles.

Dallas is averaging 32.2 points per game on the road thus far, with four of Tony Romo’s seven 300-yard games coming on the road, including a 35 of 44, 302-yard, two-touchdown afternoon in the 28-27 comeback win over the Lions in Week 14.

After shooting blanks last week against Philly with his newest love interest, Jessica Simpson, in attendance, Romo has to keep his head on straight tonight if the Cowboys aren’t to lose their hold on home field. He’s playing with a sore thumb, which could affect him if he chooses to let it, but you know what they say about molehills and mountains.

The offense should have the chance to move the ball against the Panthers, even though they shut down the Seahawks last Sunday. Matt Hasselbeck threw for 274 yards, so a big night is there for the taking if Romo wants it.

T.O. hasn’t been a factor lately, making only five catches in the last two games, but the last time he had a dry spell like this, earlier in the season, he busted out of it by going over 100 yards in five of the next six games.

More important than getting the ball to T.O., though, is utilizing the run, which has been completely invisible at many times this season, both due to the great success that Romo has had throwing the ball and because the Cowboys have had to play from behind on several occasions.

As for the Panthers offense, it’s led by none other than Matt Moore, the rookie QB that Dallas cut at the end of the preseason instead of keeping on the roster. The Panthers snapped him up before the Cowboys could put him on the practice squad, and with injuries ineffectiveness at the position, Moore has gotten the chance to see the field much, much quicker than he would have in Dallas.

He performed well in his first career start last Sunday, going 19 of 27 for 208 yards in the 13-10 win over Seattle. His offensive line made things a lot easier for him, not allowing him to be sacked at all, so it’ll be on the Dallas pass rush to wreak havoc and rattle the rookie, and leave the hugs and handshakes for before and after the game.

But, Moore might not have to worry about having the world on his shoulders tonight, as the Dallas defense hasn’t been as adept at stopping the run in the last three weeks as they had been for the better part of the season, and they’ll have their hands full with Carolina’s double-De’s, DeAngelo Williams and DeShaun Foster, who haven’t been consistent week in, week out, but aren’t to be taken lightly.

Tonight’s game is being broadcast by the NFL Network, and it starts at 7:15, which means it’s time to head to Applebee’s, Chili’s, Friday’s, or your nearest sports bar, go to the neighbor’s house, or, if you’re lucky, watch the game from the comforts of your living room.

Which one will I be doing? Well, considering I plan to provide periodical updates of the game on here, I’ll let you guess.

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