Week 1 NFL Preview: Dallas Cowboys at Carolina Panthers

By: Brad Shepard

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The first week of the 2018 NFL season starts out with a bang, as the Dallas Cowboys come into Bank of America Stadium to face the Carolina Panthers at 4:25 PM ET on Fox.

This game is as important as it gets for this early in the season. Both teams are expected to play in highly competitive divisions, where each game matters.

For the Panthers, last season ended with a disappointing loss to divisional rival New Orleans in the playoffs. For the Cowboys, last season ended with even greater disappointment, finishing 9-7 and watching division rival Philadelphia march through the playoffs and win the Super Bowl.

Last season, Panthers quarterback Cam Newton and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott had nearly identical stats – Newton and Prescott both threw for 22 touchdowns. Newton threw for 3,302 yards, Prescott 3,324 yards. Newton’s completion percentage was 59, Prescott’s was 62. The Panthers have serious concerns on the offensive line coming into this season and will have Pro Bowl defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence to contend with.

The Cowboys are a team of new faces in key roles, having released wide receiver Dez Bryan, cutting kicker Dan Bailey and watching tight end Jason Witten retire. Ezekiel Elliot looks better than ever and is certain to be a key to the Cowboys success on offense.

For the Panthers to win, the offensive line must protect Cam Newton, and Newton must make quicker decisions in the pocket and not hold on to the football too long. They’ll have to develop a running game to take pressure off Newton and capitalize on red zone opportunities.

For the Cowboys to win, Ezekiel Elliot must have his way with the Panthers defense, opening opportunities in the passing game for Prescott. The defensive line must consistently pressure Newton, shaking his confidence and forcing him to make mistakes.

Week 1 of the NFL has arrived. Are you ready for some football?