It's go time: Dak Prescott, Cowboys front seven set for first test of 2018

Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott throws a pass before the game against the Arizona Cardinals at AT&T Stadium.Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Dallas prepped for live action at Carolina on Sunday.

It's game week, which means all of the question marks of the offseason and training camp will be replaced by a meaningful game and a definitive result. Here are four matchups we think will take center stage when the Cowboys open the season at Carolina on Sunday afternoon.

--Cowboys QB Dak Prescott vs. Panthers secondary. Like the Cowboys, Carolina has revamped its secondary with cornerback James Bradberry as the only holdover from last season in the current starting lineup. Prescott will also be working with a new group of receivers. His ability to connect with Allen Hurns, Tavon Austin, Michael Gallup and others will be in sharp focus.

--Cowboys C Joe Looney vs. Panthers DT Kawann Short. Looney will spell center Travis Frederick until Frederick is ready to return to action. That means Looney gets a trial by fire in the opener against a solid Carolina defensive front. Short is the Panthers best interior defensive lineman as he posted 7.5 sacks in 2017. Looney looked comfortable in the preseason and received rave reviews for his improvement from head coach Jason Garrett. Now we'll see how that translates to the regular season.

--Cowboys front seven versus Panthers QB Cam Newton. Dallas got a breakout season from DE Demarcus Lawrence last season and they're counting on a follow-up to lead the defensive line. Meanwhile, linebacker Sean Lee and Jaylon Smith are two of the Cowboys' best players. The entire group will get a chance to show what it can do against the superstar Newton.

--Cowboys CB Chidobe Awuzie vs. Panthers WR Torrey Smith. Awuzie looked like he could be one of the Cowboys defensive stars during training camp. He missed a chunk of last season with a hamstring injury, but hes healthy to start this season and has a chance to show out versus the Panthers passing game.

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