Quick Take: Cowboys (12-2) at Panthers (6-8)

Last meeting
On Oct. 29 of last year, Tony Romo threw for 270 yards and a touchdown in his first career start to lead the **Cowboys past the Panthers, 35-14**.

Carolina won its first regular-season game against Dallas but has lost the last six. In two playoff meetings, however, the Panthers are undefeated against the Cowboys. Check out the full **head-to-head matchup**.

Last week
With Romo suffering a thumb injury, the Cowboys' pass attack struggled mightily and the team **suffered a costly 10-6 loss** against the rival Eagles. The defeat dropped them into a tie with the Packers for the best record in the NFC. The Panthers, meanwhile, got a win in QB Matt Moore's first career start, **beating the Seahawks, 13-10**, to stay alive in the NFC playoff race.

At stake
In order to keep pace with the Packers atop the NFC, the Cowboys have to beat the Panthers. If Dallas is able to win out, it will secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. The Panthers still have an outside shot at making the playoffs if everything falls exactly right. **Look at the playoff picture** to see what needs to happen for Carolina to sneak into the postseason.

Key matchup

Cowboys RB Marion Barber vs. Panthers rookie LB Jon Beason. Just named to the **NFC Pro Bowl roster**, Barber is receiving recognition for his scoring exploits. After **leading the conference** in touchdowns last season with 16, he is back up to his old tricks this year. He ranks fifth in the NFC with 11 this season and is third behind only Minnesota's Adrian Peterson and Philadelphia's Brian Westbrook among running backs.

The seemingly impossible responsibility for helping keep Barber out of the end zone falls to Beason. If it wasn't for San Francisco's Patrick Willis, Beason would be a top candidate for Defensive Rookie of the Year. He has the fifth-most tackles in the NFC and has seamlessly moved into injured MLB Dan Morgan's spot. Should Beason win this battle and prevent Barber from hitting paydirt, the Panthers could be in a position to pull off the upset.

Did you know?
Moore spent the **preseason** with Dallas and recorded a 100.1 QB rating, before being released by the Cowboys and picked up by the Panthers.

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