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USA Today Sports Media Group
USA Today Sports Media Group
Anthony Rizzuti

4 key matchups for Panthers vs. Cowboys in Week 11

Let’s just be straight up—the Carolina Panthers will need a lot of factors to fall in their favor to pull off an upset on Sunday. Heck, we’ll even give you four as we head into kickoff later this afternoon.

Here are the key matchups for the Week 11 clash with the Dallas Cowboys:

Panthers LT Ikem Ekwonu vs. Cowboys LB Micah Parsons

Arizona Republic

Ekwonu isn’t having a spectacular sophomore season, but he’s not having the catastrophic campaign many may believe he is either. In fact, last Thursday’s 89.9 pass-blocking grade from Pro Football Focus was the highest amongst all offensive linemen in Week 10.

But that number will likely take a hit on Sunday with one of the game’s premier pass rushers lining up against him. Parsons, who currently ranks second in the NFL in pressures, has speed for days off the edge—something Ekwonu has always struggled with.

Panthers interior OL vs. Cowboys DT Osa Odighizuwa

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Speaking of struggles in the trench, the Panthers have had some adventures trying to hold up their interior. Aside from the pass-blocking troubles of center Bradley Bozeman and the recent return of right guard Austin Corbett, the team just released Calvin Throckmorton—who started the last three games at left guard.

In his place will be rookie Chandler Zavala, who has earned PFF’s lowest pass-blocking grade (9.6) amongst all offensive linemen with at least five appearances. Odighizuwa, an overlooked stud of this dynamic Dallas defense, may have himself a Sunday Funday.

Panthers CB Troy Hill vs. Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Lamb, who may have just broken into the very elite tier of NFL wideouts, has about half a season’s worth of production over the last month of play. He’s recorded 41 receptions for 617 yards and three touchdowns in his past four games.

The former first-rounder does most of his work from the inside, as he leads all Cowboys receivers with 216 snaps from the slot. That’s where Hill currently roams for Carolina, who’ll need a clutch showing from their veteran corner to keep this red-hot Dallas offense as cool as possible.

Panthers CB Donte Jackson vs. Cowboys WR Brandin Cooks

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

For all those consistently outrageous numbers Lamb has been putting up, he wasn’t even the team’s leading pass catcher in their 49-point, 640-yard performance from last week. That honor belonged to Cooks, who lit up the New York Giants for 173 receiving yards and a score.

The Panthers will likely be looking to counter the shiftiness of Cooks with some quickness of their own in Jackson, who has been balling out of late. He’s fresh off a 93.1 coverage grade from PFF, the highest of his six-year career.

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