Here it is ladies and gents, the first game of the regular season. The Carolina Panthers host the Dallas Cowboys in what is sure to be a match to delight the senses. Here are a few things I will be keeping a close eye on that will likely determine the outcome of the game.
Run Baby Run
Carolina Panthers fans have noticed a change in the running style of Christian McCaffrey. Throughout training camp and preseason he has looked less like a shifty scat back and more like a legitimate box runner. No longer relying on dancing to avoid contact, he now hits the hole quickly and with more power. He will need to against the Dallas Cowboys’ linebackers headed up by Sean Lee. The Cowboys linebacker corps are probably the deepest unit on the entire team.
It will be interesting to see if Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner can effectively establish a run game early. If so, the match becomes all the more winnable.
The Cowboys have a fairly pedestrian wide receivers corps, good news for the Carolina Panthers and their question marks at cornerback. One intriguing matchup will be Tavon Austin who will likely be covered by rookie Donte Jackson. The Panthers drafted Jackson specifically to match up again fast and shifty receivers. It seems he will get his chance to prove his worth right away on Sunday. Austin is every bit as cocky as Jackson, this could be a whole lot of fun to watch.
Air it out
The Carolina Panthers are fielding their best wide receivers group in recent memory. Once the run game is established I hope to see a healthy portion of play action passes and deep throws. I want to see what second year receiver Curtis Samuel can really do against a mediocre Cowboys secondary. Throw in a DJ Moore touchdown and my expectations for this season will skyrocket. Of course, having a NFL caliber offensive coordinator calling this plays this season should make offensive expectations a bit higher to begin with.Agree? Disagree? You can sound off right here with thousands of Carolina Panthers fans.