Panthers at Cowboys: A Monday Night Football Must-Win for Both Teams

Daniel DinunzioAnalyst ISeptember 24, 2009

HARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 29:  Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys calls a play against the Carolina Panthers during the game on October 29, 2006 at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Cowboys won 35-14.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

The most intriguing matchup of Week Three in the NFL could easily be the game that will wrap the week up. 

The Panthers will be on the road playing in the Palace that Jerry Jones built down in Big D.  It brings up a great question: Early in this season, who needs the win more, the Panthers or Cowboys?

First, let's analyze the state of the Dallas CowboysTony Romo is coming off an absolutely horrible game that the Cowboys still had a chance to win at the end.  He wanted to deliver a win against the Giants in the Stadium debut, but that's over and done with.  He better win on Monday night or else there could be some serious changes in Big D.

Tony Romo is Jerry Jones quarterback, like it or not.  As far as Wade Philips is concerned that scene is yet to be played out.  A loss at home on Monday night could put Philips strictly on the hot seat.  Remember, there is a hot offensive coordinator making $3 million dollars a year in Jason Garrett on board in Big D.

Don't think Jerry Jones would think twice about pulling the trigger on firing Wade and promoting Jason Garrett to head coach.  He has made crazier decisions, and this would be no different.

Now sizing up the team Dallas is facing is the Carolina Panthers.  Off to a 0-2 start, the last thing they want to do is end up 0-3 in the NFC South.  That would spell disaster for John Fox and his Carolina Panthers.

This team's defense has disappeared over the offseason.  Julius Peppers is not the same player, and he has been consistently double-teammed off the line of scrimmage.

The linebacker core led by Jon Beason has struggled mightily in stopping the pass.  Donovan McNabb and Matt Ryan both lit it up in the air the last two weeks.  These problems need to be addressed this week, or Romo will make them pay.

Jake Delhomme is going to need to find his receivers open against a weak Dallas secondary in order to win this game.  Steve Smith and Mushin Muhammad better have big games if they expect to leave Big D with a win.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart have to get back the one-two punch of last year in order for this team to start winning games.  A tough start to the year, but Carolina has looked inefficient on offense and slow on defense through two games.

Speaking of running backs, Marion Barber is dealing with an uncertain quad injury.  His chances of playing are up in the air right now, but expect to see a lot of Felix Jones and Tashard Choice anyway.

Dallas can run the ball, and if they are successful in the passing game, Garrett needs to establish the run first.  Then, Romo can work Roy Williams on the outside and his safety blanket tight end Jason Witten over the middle.

This game should be titled must-win Monday, because both teams need it just as bad.  The NFC South and NFC East are full of talent and solid teams that have six playoff caliber teams.  The only problem is only not all of those teams will be playing come Wildcard Weekend.

It is only Week Three, but watch out for Jerry Jones to make some moves if his team losses Monday night.  On the other hand, the Panthers could be in for a long season if they don't show up in Dallas.

Dallas should and needs to win this game if they are planning on being at the top of the NFC.  Romo and company need to get their acts together and start playing as a team.


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