Cowboys vs. Panthers: A rapid fire preview

Streeter Lecka - Getty Images

We brought in SB Nation's Carolina Panthers blogger for a word association game about both teams to get ready for Sunday's game.

James Dator is one of the managing editors over at Cat Scratch Reader, SB Nation's excellent Carolina Panthers blog. You can follow him on Twitter @James_Dator.

We gave him a list of all the big players and storylines coming into Sunday's game and asked him for the first thing that came to mind:

Cam Newton: Unfairly criticised, but needs to stop trying to do too much with his arm.

Ron Rivera: Making the mistakes all inexperienced coaches do. Needs to get his coordinators under control.

Steve Smith: Tired. A near-decade of team mediocrity is starting to wear the veteran down, but he still has it.

Carolina's 1-4 record this year: Disappointing. Super Bowl wasn't realistic, 9-7 was. It will take a small miracle to get there.

Carolina's future: Hanging in the balance. Newton is the real deal, but will the front office be here much longer?

Luke Kuechly: As good as advertised. He's a special player, and improving every week.

DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart: Need to get the ball more. Read option offense is killing their effectiveness.

Carolina's defense: Lost. There is talent sprinkled around, but they're not performing as a unit. The secondary is an absolute mess.

Charles Johnson: Worth the money. The Panthers spent a lot to retain him, but he's a consistent force every week-- even if the box scores don't always show it.

Tony Romo: Scapegoat. He has bad games like every QB, but Romo gets way too much flack for the Cowboys' woes.

Jason Garrett: Not much to say, and I think that's the problem. What is the identity of the Cowboys? Rob Ryan seems more of the figurehead than Garrett.

Jerry Jones: Passionate, sometimes to a fault. Easy to make fun of Jerry, but every team wishes they had an owner that passionate. Still think he needs to stay away from talent evaluation though.

Dez Bryant: It looks like he's finally putting it all together. It has taken a while, but you can see glimpses of an elite receiver.

DeMarcus Ware: When it's all said and done we could be talking about him being the greatest pass rusher of all time.

Cowboys 2-3 record this year: Similarly disappointing to Carolina's 1-4. They should be better, and have the talent to be better.

Biggest X-factor Sunday: Did the Panthers make adjustments during their bye? If they did, and play to their strengths it will change the game. If not, they lose; it's that simple.

Prediction: Desperate Panthers at home change enough to beat a Cowboys team minus DeMarco Murray. 23-17

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