The top two seeds in the NFC will meet on Sunday when the Arizona Cardinals travel east to take on Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers. The game will take place at Bank of America Stadium and is scheduled to begin at 5:40 PM. ET.
During the regular season, a lot of fans and experts felt the Arizona Cardinals were the best NFL team, but the team finished the season with three losses and fell to second place in the conference. They will have an opportunity to prove that they are the best team in the conference when they take the field on Sunday.
The Carolina Panthers started the season with low expectations due to injuries in the preseason and their lack of activity in free agency. Despite their disadvantages, the Panthers went on to have the best season in franchise history, and now have a chance to win the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
Top Rated NFL Sportsbook: BetOnline.ag
A lot of the success Carolina had this year was due to their dominant defense, which held opponents to 19.3 points per game, the 9th best average in the league. While their defensive success was expected, the team didn’t expect Cam Newton to have the type of season he had.
Despite the lack of offensive weapons, Newton had one of the best seasons in recent history, and is one of the finalists for the NFL MVP award. Newton finished the year with 3,837 yards and 35 touchdowns through the air, he also added 636 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground, giving the Panthers the top rated offense in the NFL.
Like the Panthers, the Arizona Cardinals came into the season with one of the best defenses in the league. Arizona allowed opponents to score an average of 19.6 points per game, which was the 7th best in the NFL.
Offensively, the Cardinals went from one of the worst teams in the league last season, to one of the best. This year, the Cardinals scored 30.6 points per game, which was the 2nd best mark in the league behind Carolina.
The biggest reasons for the improved Cardinals defense were the performances of Carson Palmer and Larry Fitzgerald. Palmer, who suffered a season ending injury early last season was healthy all year and had a big impact on the team’s offensive production.
Last season, Larry Fitzgerald was written off and said to be in decline, but the future Hall of Famer silenced his critics and finished the year with 1,215 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns.
Fitzgerald is also the reason the Cardinals were able to beat the Packers last week, finishing the game with 176 yards and the game winning touchdown in overtime. If Carolina can’t figure out a way to slow him down, they will have a hard time winning the NFC Championship Game.
Cardinals vs Panthers Betting Lines
Carolina seems like the logical choice in this game, but their inability to put opponents away is a big concern, which is why I’m picking the Cardinals to cover the spread and win the game.
Play: Cardinals +3 @ BetOnline.ag