NFC Title Game: Expert Shares How to Bet Cardinals vs. Panthers

Ted Sevransky

Saturday, January 23, 2016 7:10 PM UTC

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016 7:10 PM UTC

Let's review the NFL odds for the NFC Title Game between the Arizona Cardinals & the Carolina Panthers, join us inside as we present our sharp pick for this matchup.

Conference Championship Value Plays
Conference Championship Player Props
Conference Championship Betting Handbook

[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":2968214, "sportsbooksIds":[169,1096,93,19,92,238], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]
NFL Pick: Panthers -3
Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle


Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers
The Panthers have been searching for respect from the betting markets and the national pundits all year. A team that went 15-1 SU this year is being priced like they are power rated equally with Arizona, laying only a field goal at home on the NFL odds board. It might be tight, but this is a game I expect Carolina to win. 

All Carolina has done this year is win games and cover pointspreads. Cam Newton is the likely MVP. Newton won and covered in Carolina’s lone home playoff game last year against these same Cardinals.  He won and covered in the postseason again last week against the defending NFC champs from Seattle. And this is Carolina’s third straight year in the playoff ; a battle tested team far more than public opinion seems to think.

The Panthers are also a team with a huge chip on their shoulders – they’ve got something to prove, especially after nearly blowing a 31-0 halftime lead against the Seahawks last week. That came on the heels of a blown 35-7 lead against the Giants back in Week 15, and a defensive meltdown in Week 13 at New Orleans; another game where they blew a double digit second half lead. The Panthers failed to cover against Indy back in early November when the Colts erased a 17 point fourth quarter lead.  And their 37-14 fourth quarter lead against the Packers turned into a nail biter as Carolina’s prevent defense didn’t prevent Aaron Rodgers from marching down the field into the end zone twice.

All of these blown leads are a big part of the market disrespect for the Panthers. Head coach Ron Rivera: “I don’t get it. I really don’t. It’s funny. At one point you’ve got a 14-game winning streak and people doubt you, then you lose one game and people doubt you even more. I think we crashed the party. People were expecting us to be 8-8, 9-7, I guess. It took people a long time to pay attention to us. I don’t think we were fairly treated by some other people. People made statements about who we are, and they have no idea about who we really are. It’s about trying to get recognized, and we have to some degree. But I just don’t think we’ve gotten our due, which is OK….We’ll show up, play hard, and see what happens.”

Rivera, about the concerns surrounding all of these blown leads in the second half: “I’ll be honest, I get it, I understand. But shoot, we won those football games ... Am I concerned? Yeah. But are these things correctable and fixable? Most certainly. Let’s stay focused on what we did. We did some really good things. We made some things happen. And we won the football game(s).”  And that’s the key for me – despite all of those blown leads, the Panthers won every game in question, and I suspect they’ve learned some lessons in the process – lessons about maintaining intensity even when they’re in control.

Arizona won a playoff game against the Packers last week in spite of Carson Palmer, not because of Carson Palmer. Palmer, who has never won a road playoff game in his 13 year NFL career, looking anything but loose, relaxed and confident last week in the win over Green Bay.  He threw two interceptions, but at least three more passes could have (and probably should have) been picked off. 

For a Cardinals team that has suffered some major injury losses in the secondary in recent weeks, they’ll need an ‘A’ game from Palmer here to hang tough.  I’m not convinced they’ll get it. Cam Newton is the proven performer in pressure packed spots, dating back to his tenure at Auburn…. Take Panthers as your NFL pick.

comment here