By Danny Cox
NFL on CBS and Thursday Night Football lead sideline reporter Tracy Wolfson, who will be with Jim Nantz and Phil Simms this Thursday and Sunday, has been talking about sports for over 10 years. Her NFL expertise is far and above those of many others, and she took some time to speak on a couple of big games this upcoming week.
As usual, Thanksgiving Day games are always a lot of fun and this year could prove to be rather interesting. The Dallas Cowboys have dealt with a lot of adversity this season and now have to face off with the undefeated Carolina Panthers, but oddly enough, the boys are somehow favorites while Cam Newton and his teammates are underdogs.
Carolina Panthers vs. Dallas Cowboys, CBS – Nov. 26 at 4:30 p.m. ET
It’s not just a weak division, the Panthers are legit Super Bowl contenders with no-name receivers and after getting rid of their top rusher before the season. How?
Tracy Wolfson: “Obviously, Greg Olsen has been tremendous. Jonathan Stewart has certainly stepped up, but mostly it’s the defense and Cam Newton. I covered Newton when he was at Auburn and what he does for a team is simply infectious. People thrive off of what he brings to the team as a leader and his energy.
Last season, he was not healthy and not 100 percent and you could definitely see that at many times. When Cam Newton is healthy and playing well, the Panthers will follow suit and do it right along with him.”
On the other hand, do you feel as if it’s just injuries that have made Dallas’ season so bad?
TW: “I really do think it’s the injuries (and those who are injured) that have hurt them. When you lose a quarterback and a leader like Tony Romo, it’s going to hurt a lot. You lose a guy like Dez, Dez Bryant who brings so much excitement and passion and flair to the game and your team is going to be in trouble.
I definitely think it has been the injuries and if not for them, the Cowboys would be at the top of the NFC East.”
With Tony Romo back, can the Cowboys pull off the upset?
TW: “Well, it’s possible. I’m shocked that Carolina is the underdog. Still, it’s at home for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving and they play well on that day. A short week can be a good equalizer, but it could also be a problem. Romo has been back just one game and isn’t totally healthy. Same goes for Dez Bryant.
Carolina is undefeated though and this could just be their week to lose. It’s hard to go undefeated for an entire season and Dallas may have their number.”
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Seattle Seahawks, CBS – Nov. 29 at 4:25 p.m. ET
Did Thomas Rawls’ game against the 49ers make Marshawn Lynch expendable?
TW: “I do think so. It’s tough to carry a heavy load for so long and with the injuries, Marshawn Lynch can’t stay on the field. Now, there is talk of a sports hernia and will he be back on the field this season? Will he be available for the Seahawks anymore this year?
Sure, we’ve seen what Rawls can do, but it was just one game. Still, when you see what others can step up and do, then you realize that there are others out there. Lynch would get a lot of money next season and the Seahawks will possibly want to look into who else is there and where that money can be spent on different positions.”
Big Ben’s last game was his best of the season. How does he do that against the Legion of Boom?
TW: “The Legion of Boom has not been the same this season as last. The talent is still there and they are still good, but not as dominating as they’ve been in recent years. Ben Roethlisberger is a different breed of quarterback. He scrambles just like Russell Wilson scrambles, but we don’t know how healthy he is.
There are different ways to beat the Seahawks. Ben Roethlisberger playing well is one of them, but if the rest of the team steps up, then the Steelers can win this one.”
These two teams have met twice since Super Bowl XL and Seattle has yet to score a point…will this game be different?
TW: “It’s just two games. Every year is different where teams change, players change. It depends on the time of year and who wants it more. Who has a chip on their shoulder? Who has something to lose? Streaks that are longer will eventually be broken and I don’t put a lot of thought into anything like that. This will be its own game and could go either way.”
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.