By Stephen Dolan
It’s a Thanksgiving tradition for Dallas Cowboys fans as they will be playing on Thursday to take on the Carolina Panthers. Although Carolina is undefeated on the season, the Cowboys are slight favorites in the game. Will Tony Romo and Dallas spoil the Panthers’ perfection?
Play: Cam Newton (vs. DAL)
Newton is the main reason the Panthers have started the season 10-0. Arguably his best game of the season came on Sunday against the Redskins as he threw for 246 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions in Carolina’s 44-16 victory. Newton has posted three consecutive games with quarterback ratings of 100 or higher while throwing nine touchdowns and just one interception over that time.
Pass: Tony Romo (vs. CAR)
Romo came back from a broken collarbone on Sunday against the Dolphins and shook off some of the rust. He completed 64.3 percent of his passes for 227 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his first start back. Things are going to be more difficult for Romo on Sunday against a stout Panthers defense that ranks seventh in the NFL against the pass allowing an average of 228 yards per game with a league-leading 15 interceptions.
Play: Jonathan Stewart (vs. DAL)
Stewart is on track to have his best rushing season since 2009 as he has 764 yards and four touchdowns through Carolina’s first 10 games of the season. He is coming off a strong effort against the Redskins rushing 21 times for 102 yards and he also caught a 12-yard touchdown from Newton. Stewart squares off against a Dallas rush defense that has allowed 104.7 yards per game this year. Play Stewart.
Pass: Darren McFadden (vs. CAR)
McFadden has put together a strong five-game stretch for Dallas since becoming the featured back. He has three 100-yard games over that span, including a strong game on Sunday rushing 29 times for 129 yards. McFadden gets a tough task on Thursday facing a Panther defense that ranks eighth in the NFL against the rush led by speedy linebackers Thomas Davis and Luke Kuechly. Pass on McFadden.
Play: Dez Bryant (vs. CAR)
Bryant, like Romo, is still overcoming an injury suffered early in the season. Bryant’s broken foot has slowed him down but he is still Romo’s top target on the outside for Dallas. He caught four of his nine targets for 45 yards and a touchdown on Sunday against Miami. He will likely line up against one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL in Josh Norman on Thursday but Bryant still finds a way to be a difference-maker.
Pass: Ted Ginn (vs. DAL)
Ginn is a lightning quick receiver for a Panthers team that hasn’t missed a beat since Kelvin Benjamin went down with a torn ACL in training camp. Ginn has the potential to break a big play at any point but he has been an inconsistent fantasy option. Last week, he caught five passes for 37 yards and a touchdown, marking the first time since October 4 that Ginn found the end zone. Pass on Ginn this week.
Play: Greg Olsen (vs. DAL)
Olsen is Newton’s favorite target, especially in the red zone. The Carolina tight end has caught 48 passes for 718 yards and six touchdowns so far on the season. He was held to three receptions for 54 yards and a touchdown on Sunday but he has caught a touchdown in three of his last four games. Newton will likely be looking Olsen’s way a lot on Thursday.
Pass: Jason Witten (vs. CAR)
The return of Romo was expected to give a boost to Witten’s fantasy value but that didn’t exactly happen on Sunday. Witten was targeted just three times recording two receptions for just 27 yards. It doesn’t figure to get any easier for Witten on Thursday as Davis will likely be put on Witten to limit his production against a tough Panthers defense.
Play: Dan Bailey (vs. CAR)
Pass: Graham Gano (vs. DAL)
Steve Dolan is an MBA student at Villanova University and a graduate of the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University. Steve co-founded Whiz Wit Sports, a Philadelphia-centric sports blog, in March 2011 growing the site to win PHL 17’s Best Local Blogger on the Philly Hot List in 2013.