DALLAS - The Dallas Cowboys look to hand the Carolina Panthers their first loss of the season and, in doing so, solidify themselves as serious NFC contenders.
Entering Week 4, the Cowboys defense leads the NFL with eight takeaways. Can Dallas keep it up against Carolina's No. 1-ranked defense and new quarterback Sam Darnold? Will Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott keep up his torrid pace for Comeback Player of the Year (and perhaps also Most Valuable Player)?
The Cowboys are playing on a short week after a win over the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football, which put them in sole possession of first place in the NFC East. The Panthers had a long week to prepare for this matchup, as they handled business on Thursday Night Football in Week 3 by taking down the Houston Texans, 24-9.
FUN FACT: Prescott leads the NFL in completion percentage (77.5 percent) this season.
INJURY UPDATE: The Panthers will be without star running back Christian McCaffrey and rising-star rookie cornerback Jaycee Horn. Cowboys linebacker Keanu Neal and defensive end Bradlee Anae remain in the COVID protocol. Starting safety Donovan Wilson (groin) will not play.
On Saturday, Dallas activated WR Malik Turner from Reserve/Injured-Designated for Return. The club also activated defensive tackles Austin Faoliu and Justin Hamilton from the practice squad as standard elevations. The Cowboys also activated fullback Nick Ralston and tight end Jeremy Sprinkle from the practice squad as COVID-19 replacements.
Dallas now has 51 on its active roster, plus the four elevations for Sunday.
Ready to go is Cowboys defensive end Randy Gregory, though he missed some work this week.
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The depth added by Sam Williams' arrival allows a Dallas defensive standout to keep the "versatility" that makes him so dangerous.
"I don't want to harp too much on my knee; I'm just getting kind of old,'' he joked. "I've got to put some WD-40 on my knees every now and then, get them nice and lubed up so I can go. I'm not too worried about it."
RECORDS: Dallas Cowboys (2-1); Carolina Panthers (3-0)
ODDS: The Cowboys are 4.5-point favorites on FanDuel. The over/under is 52.5 total points.
BETTING TREND: So far this year, Dallas and Carolina are both undefeated against the spread at 3-0.
GAME TIME: Noon CT on Sunday, October 3, 2021
LOCATION: AT&T Stadium, Arlington TX
TV/RADIO: FOX, 105.3 The Fan
THE FINAL WORD: Panthers coach Matt Rhule praises Prescott:
"It’s like watching Peyton Manning, it’s like watching Drew Brees call the game at the line of scrimmage,” Rhule said. “I think what Dak’s doing right now is unbelievably impressive.”
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