NFC Conference Championship Picks: Cardinals To Put Up A Fight vs. Panthers

Joe Gavazzi

Saturday, January 23, 2016 3:55 PM GMT

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 3:55 PM GMT

Following the AFC Championship game, Arizona will travel three time zones east to face Carolina on Sunday. Don't miss our preview and improve your profits with our NFL picks.

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Free NFL Pick: Arizona Cardinals +142
Best Line Offered: at BetOnline

 

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers (-3) 6:40 EST FOX TV
The last time these teams met it was not much of a contest, with the Panthers recording a 27-16 victory on this field. This time around, Arizona will have a more veteran signal caller Carson Palmer at the controls. A pair of knee surgeries and an injured finger on his throwing hand have left Palmer to rely on his experience for much of his success this season.

 

Arizona Cardinals
Last week, Palmer threw two INTs and his Cardinals were outrushed 135-40. A late game lead dissolved into OT when Green Bay QB Rodgers threw his second Hail Mary TD pass of the season. But it took just three short plays, including a monster run by Cardinals WR Fitzgerald, to seal the deal of a 26-20 OT victory. Nonetheless, there is no denying the success that Palmer has had under the offensive guidance of HC Arians as the duo was 20-3 SU when teaming together the last two seasons. With the 7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS road record and revenge on their minds from last year’s playoff loss, the Cards will prove to be a huge challenge for the home standing Panthers. 

 

Carolina Panthers
Carolina has matched Arizona’s recent success with a 21-2 SU recent record. Remarkably, there have been only five greater than .500 foes in that streak. Nonetheless, there is a lot to love about this Carolina team. Following a near death experience late last season, Newton has matured quickly to become the face of this franchise, proving himself to excel in his newly found leadership role. The Panthers were 9-0 SU, 7-2 ATS on their home field this season, outgaining opponents on this field by an average of 168 YPG. The return of RB Stewart for the playoffs gives the Panthers an important option that factors in to the best running game of the remaining four playoff teams at 33/143. That is the clear edge that Carolina has against this Arizona team who otherwise has nearly identical stats with the Panthers. If Carolina is to extend their magical season, it may come on the heels of the NFL’s best number of a +22 net TO margin. Last week, the Panthers used just a +2 net TO edge to bolt to a 31-0 halftime lead against Seattle. They staved off the Seahawks by outrushing them 41/144 to 12/78, as the Seahawks were forced to the airways in the second half. If Carolina is to survive and advance, they will need to overcome that lethargic second half of last week, and play with more of a killer instinct against an Arizona team who will not go quietly into the Carolina night. 

I invite you to put the NFL odds in your favor and join me in my NFL pick on the Arizona Cardinals.

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