The Panthers took care of business on the road in Week 3 against a wounded opponent, upending rookie third-round pick Davis Mills and the Houston Texans by a 24-9 score to kick off the slate on Thursday night.
While Sam Darnold continued to impress under center by generating a 304-yard, interception-less effort, Carolina did lose Christian McCaffrey to a hamstring strain that looks set to sideline him for multiple weeks.
Rookie Chuba Hubbard stepped in and gained 52 yards on 11 rushes and showed some promise in the receiving game with three catches for 27 yards. The Oklahoma State product will now man the backfield with the help of veteran Royce Freeman until McCaffrey returns to health.
The Cowboys clicked on all cylinders in a Monday night lambasting of the division-rival Eagles to close out Week 3, blasting Philadelphia by a 41-21 scoreline.
Dak Prescott threw for an efficient 238 yards while misfiring on only five of his 26 attempts, Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard combined for 155 rushing yards and tight end Dalton Schultz snagged a pair of scoring grabs. The defense did its part as well by picking off Jalen Hurts twice, returning one for a touchdown, and sacking him on a pair of occasions as well as Dallas moved to 2-1.
Please note that all Panthers vs Cowboys odds and lines are current as of Friday, October 1.
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Panthers vs Cowboys Prediction
The Panthers will head into this Week 4 matchup with a significant rest advantage on the Cowboys, having played in the first game of the Week 3 slate while Dallas closed out the ledger Monday night. While those types of disparities are generally more impactful later in the season, they can still certainly play a role to some degree at any point in time during a campaign.
While Carolina will come in as the more refreshed squad, the Panthers will also be down three key starters in McCaffrey, cornerback Jaycee Horn (foot) and safety Juston Burris (groin). Hubbard and Freeman will look to do their best to fill in for McCaffrey and will be facing a Cowboys defense that’s given up just 70.3 rushing yards per game through three weeks, but that’s done so at 4.7 yards per carry. Therefore, there could certainly be some opportunity for the speedy Hubbard, who averaged at least 6.0 yards per carry in two of his three college campaigns.
Darnold will also look to continue his strong early-season performance, which has included a 68.2 percent completion rate and six total touchdowns (three passing, three rushing). His connection with former Jets teammate Robby Anderson has yet to truly be reignited, but Darnold has developed quick chemistry with DJ Moore, who has already posted 22 catches for 285 yards and a touchdown through three games.
Athletic rookie tight end Tommy Tremble could start to enjoy a bigger role in the Carolina offense after notching a 30-yard grab and running for a touchdown in Week 3 and seeing veteran Dan Arnold traded to the Jaguars on Monday. The Cowboys have yielded 331.7 passing yards per game thus far and have seen every opposing passer eclipse the 300-yard mark, so Darnold could be in for another fruitful day.
The Cowboys may want to continue running a balanced attack on offense, but with the Panthers allowing a miserly 45.0 rushing yards per game and missing two starters in the secondary, they may favor a game plan that tilts toward the air attack. Dallas remains well equipped to execute such a strategy despite the absence of Michael Gallup (calf), as a top wideout trio of Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Cedrick Wilson, plus the talented Schultz and Blake Jarwin at tight end can do plenty to challenge a defense.
The Panthers have only faced the pedestrian attacks of the Jets, the Jameis Winston-led, short-handed Saints and the Texans thus far, making this road battle their first big test of the season. The difference in rest will play a part early, but I see Dallas doing just enough to pull it out late in front of the home crowd.
Prediction: Cowboys 28, Panthers 24
Cowboys vs. Panthers Best Bets
Best Bet: Panthers +4.5 (-110) at BetMGM
As specified in the game prediction, I see the Cowboys emerging victorious in a close game in this spot. Each team is perfect against the number this season and Carolina is an outstanding 6-1 against the spread as a road underdog since the start of Matt Rhule’s head coaching tenure at the beginning of last season.
Conversely, the Cowboys are just 1-5 ATS as a home favorite in the same span, which covers Mike McCarthy’s head coaching tenure with the team, although the five failures to cover came last season when Prescott was out of action due to injury from Week 4 on.
The line may change throughout the week, however, so be sure to keep an eye on our NFL gameday odds.
Best Bet: Over 51.5 Total Points (-110 at Caesars)
The Cowboys have put up 29 and 41 points in two of their first three games, while the Panthers haven’t been quite as prolific but have posted 26 and 24 points in the last two contests. Playing a full game without McCaffrey, as Carolina will be forced to do in Week 4, is going to very likely affect their offensive upside. However, Darnold has a talented group of pass catchers at his disposal and the Hubbard/Freeman backfield duo should certainly prove serviceable at minimum.
While both defenses have had their moments, the Panthers unit in particular will have its first truly big test this week after facing the Jets, short-handed Saints and Texans through the first three weeks and will be without both Burris and Horn in the secondary.
Best Bet: Cowboys To Win By 1-6 Points (+250 on DraftKings)
As already I stated, I envision the Cowboys squeezing out a close victory, with both the Panthers’ solid offensive talent and the rest difference between the two teams playing a part in keeping things competitive. This margin of victory falls within that of Dallas’ first two games of the season and accounts for the Carolina cover I have predicted as well.
Panthers vs. Cowboys Same Game Parlay Picks
Same Game Parlay Odds: +275
- Panthers +4.5 (-105) at DraftKings
- Over 51.5 Total Points (-110) at DraftKings
This same-game parlay on DraftKings allows us to get to a really appealing price on a couple of wagers that I previously made a case for at an excellent price.