Carolina Panthers (10-0 SU, 7-3 ATS) vs. Dallas Cowboys (3-7 SU, 3-7 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Thursday, November 26, 2015 at 4:30PM EST
Where: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CAR +1/DAL -1
Over/Under Total: 46
On Thanksgiving Day, the Carolina Panthers look to make it 11-0 on the season, as they face the Dallas Cowboys. This is a big game for Dallas, who ended a 7-game losing streak on Sunday with a 24-14 road win over Miami in Tony Romos first game back after being out with a shoulder injury. His presence makes Dallas infinitely better and they look to notch a big win on Sunday. They certainly have their work cut out, facing an unbeaten Carolina team that is showing no signs of let-up. On Sunday, the Panthers crushed the Redskins, 44-16
Despite losing 7 games in a row and being a woeful 3-7, Dallas still has something real to play for, with no one in the NFC East running away with it, as the Giants lead the way at 5-5. If Dallas can continue putting together wins, things could tighten up even more in the division. In other words, a lot of 3-7 teams have ruled out the postseason, but Dallas is actually still in it, believe it or not. And with Romo in there, this is the same team that went pretty far last season. They looked good earlier in the season with Romo in there and they also looked good on Sunday. They should be tough going down the stretch. Another good sign was the level of fighting spirit they showed, even in losing 7 straight games.
Against Miami, Romo got back into the swing of things with a pair of TD passes to Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams. Romo also leaned on re-emergent back Darren McFadden, who has put together some nice showings lately. He had 129 yards on the ground on Sunday. If Dallas offense can continue to produce and gets better from here, they will be in good shape. The return of Romo opens up the pass-game, making the ground game better.
With Dallas able to consistently move chains again, the defense will continue to shine, as it did on Sunday. The effort has been there defensively for Dallas. At times this season, this unit has played well. The Miami game showed how this defense can shine when not on the field too much and suffering with a struggling offense.
Dallas has been on the cusp, losing some close games during their 7-game tumble. It was like you could sense a team trying to break through, but without the guns to do it. With Bryant now back in full-stride and Romo back behind center, its like a weight has been lifted. Not that one should expect a vintage Cowboys team to emerge over the last six games, but they could very well be a dangerous force moving forward. To do so, they now need to turn around on a short week to take a punishing team in the unbeaten Panthers.
The 44-16 win over Washington on Sunday saw the Carolina offense once again in fine form. One remembers over the past few seasons, Carolina relied on defense with an offense that could be rather pedestrian. Were seeing a different offense this season, with Newton more confidently flinging he ball around to a talented crew of ball-catchers. On Sunday, Newton threw 5 TD passes. On the ground, Jonathan Stewart was over 100 yards. This offense has really taken a step forward this season. In all of their last 8 games, they have scored at least 27 points.
On Sunday, the Carolina defense was again very tough and punishing, holding Washington to 186 yards on the day, while getting 5 turnovers, four of them being fumbles. In the last two games, theyve allowed 26 combined points. While a Dallas offense riddled with injuries doesnt ideally need to be facing such a physical defense, this is a Dallas offense that could be among the better ones Carolina has faced in recent weeks.
We see the point spread, with Dallas favored by a point early in the week. That seems to indicate that a potential Carolina letdown is expected by some. But so far this season, theyve been shot out of a cannon every week. Theyve covered three straight spreads and 6 of their last 7. Time and again, Carolina delivers each week, beating teams that you would think would be playing with a higher sense of urgency. But anyone who has been basing picks against Carolina on the basis of them needing the win less have taken some hits this season. The element of urgency doesnt take an inferior team and make them superior.
But with Romo back behind center and having had one game to get his feet wet, the Cowboys should be primed for a really good game this week at home. A home Dallas D could make life harder on the Carolina offense. And the sheer balance of the Dallas attack with Romo in there figures to present some different challenges to a Carolina defense that is good, but by no means invulnerable. Its difficult to pick against the Panthers right now, with no signs of slippage really being evident. But I suspect the Cowboys will play really well on Thursday and get it done.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the Dallas Cowboys minus 1 point.
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