TALE OF THE TAPE

Week 7: Dallas Cowboys At Carolina Panthers

Cowboys
Panthers
Dallas Cowboys v New York Giants
Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Quarterback
Winner The Cowboys lost again in their Week Six matchup with the Baltimore Ravens, but Tony Romo bounced back with a solid game. He shook off his five-interception performance against Chicago and played with confidence and threw the ball with accuracy. If he can get half-decent protection from his line and his receivers cooperate, Romo should be ready for a big game.
The Panthers are struggling on offense and Cam Newton has not found his way so far this season. While he is a gifted athlete with a plus-arm, he is struggling with his accuracy and timing. The Panthers are getting frustrated waiting for him to demonstrate his talent the way he did as a rookie last year.
Offense
Winner The Cowboys rediscovered their running game in the 31-29 loss to the Ravens. Running back DeMarco Murray carried the ball 14 times for 93 yards. Dez Bryant is a big-play wide receiver with a boatload of athletic talent. However, he doesn’t always carry out his assignments properly. Tight end Jason Witten remains Romo’s most dependable receiver.
Winner The Panthers have the talent to put a dependable ground game on the field. In addition to the running of Newton, DeAngelo Williams is an explosive back and Jonathan Stewart is a dependable change-of-pace runner. Steve Smith may be getting older, but he still runs his pass patterns with speed and toughness. He needs more help from Brandon LaFell and tight end Greg Olsen.
Defense
The Cowboys try to beat you with speed on defense. Defensive coordinator Rob Ryan knows where opponents want to go and he does a very good job of playing the chess game and having his players in the proper position. Heat-seeking missile DeMarcus Ware is still the most dangerous defender on the Cowboys and is still one of the best defensive players in the game.
Winner The Panthers have a speedy defensive team and they have talent in their hard-hitting linebacking crew. The most important player may be rookie Luke Kuechly who can be a tackling machine and is almost never in the wrong spot. Veteran Jon Beason remains one of the hardest hitters in the game.
Special Teams
The Cowboys got victimized on special teams in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens when Jacoby Jones returned a kickoff 108 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter. The Cowboys are not getting much from their own return specialists and placekicker Dan Bailey is just average.
Winner The Panthers have not turned to placekicker Justin Medlock very often this year. He has made just 2-of-2 attempts this season. Punter Brad Nortman does not have a huge leg, but he is skilled at placing the ball inside the 20-yard line.

The Winner Is

Carolina Panthers v New Orleans Saints
Winner Panthers
3 out of 4

Both teams are at critical points in their season. The Cowboys are coming off a heartbreaking loss to the Ravens following their bye week. The Panthers have not been consistent this season and Ron Rivera must come up with an answer quickly or the season will quickly disappear. The Panthers must force turnovers from Romo if they want to win this game.

MORE TALES OF THE TAPE

  1. GREEN BAY, WI - JANUARY 8:  Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers drops back to pass in the second quarter during the NFC Wild Card game against the New York Giants at Lambeau Field on January 8, 2017 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images) ARLINGTON, TX - DECEMBER 26: Dak Prescott #4 of the Dallas Cowboys throws against the Detroit Lions during the first half at AT&T Stadium on December 26, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Green Bay Packers at Dallas Cowboys

    The Packers look to avenge a loss to the Cowboys in the regular season.

  2. PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 08:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers hands off to Le\'Veon Bell #26 during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins in the AFC Wild Card game at Heinz Field on January 8, 2017 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) KANSAS CITY, MO - DECEMBER 25:  Quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the Kansas City Chiefs in action during the game against the Denver Broncos at Arrowhead Stadium on December 25, 2016 in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jason Hanna/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Pittsburgh Steelers at Kansas City Chiefs

    The red-hot Steelers head to KC for a rematch with a Chiefs team they throttled 43-14 in the regular season.

  3. HOUSTON, TX - JANUARY 07:  Brock Osweiler #17 of the Houston Texans hands off to Lamar Miller #26 at NRG Stadium on January 7, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) MIAMI GARDENS, FL - JANUARY 01: Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots points to the defense during the 1st quarter against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium on January 1, 2017 in Miami Gardens, Florida. (Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images)
    Divisional Round Tale: Houston Texans at New England Patriots

    The Texans head to Foxboro, the site of a 27-0 loss in the regular season and now have to face Tom Brady this time around.

See All Tales of the Tape

More From CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

Drip Pan: CBS Local App
Drip Pan: Weather App
Drip Pan: Restaurant Week 365

Listen Live