Cowboys fans, the season begins on Sunday, real football, starters playing for all four quarters, we finally made it. Dallas will start on the road and will face off against the Panthers in Carolina to kick off their quest for a Super Bowl.
The Panthers are a very difficult opponent to open the season against, their versatile and explosive offense is led by the flashy, powerful and all-around freak of nature quarterback, Cam Newton. If you’re reading this article, you know all about Newton and what he can do to a defense. But, there is another player that has caught my eye, second-year running back, Christian McCaffrey.
Shutting down McCaffrey would go a long way in securing a win Sunday afternoon for the Cowboys, the offensive line of the Panthers is currently shaken up from multiple injuries to their starters, and a slow day for McCaffrey would force the line to have to block Randy Gregory and Demarcus Lawrence in passing situations only.
McCaffrey is an all-around beast of a running back, and a threat that this Dallas defense hasn’t seen before. In today’s NFL there are usually different running backs on each team that specialize in different aspects of the game, well McCaffrey does it all.
He is a player who can catch the ball very efficiently out of the backfield and in the slot, even as a running back. He had over 600 receiving yards last year and broke Kelvin Benjamin’s record for catches by a rookie with 80.
His rushing stats from last season aren’t as impressive, however, with the departure of Jonathan Stewart to the Giants, expect to see McCaffrey get a much larger role running the ball. He has looked very impressive in preseason, rushing for 151 yards on 21 attempts and he’s tallied 73 receiving yards on 8 receptions.
The Cowboys will have to be ready for anything when McCaffrey is on the field. Sean Lee will most likely draw the responsibility of containing him, which should be a good sign for Cowboy fans, Lee has been known as a guy who can eliminate a player from the game by his great play.
However, Lee hasn’t seen a player of McCaffrey’s kind yet.
The closest player comparison to McCaffrey from last year would most likely be Kareem Hunt, a player who can rush and receive effectively. Dallas held him to 37 yards on 9 carries and 24 yards receiving. If McCaffery has a stat-line similar to that it wouldn’t be hard to imagine the Cowboys win a game that they’re currently being projected to lose.
The Dallas defense looks to have a potential to be great this year, that being said it’s hard to assume they will be without having seen them play a regular season game yet. That uncertainty is what is forcing me to pick Carolina for this one, 27-20.
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