The Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals will face each other in the postseason for the third consecutive time. This time around, the stakes are even higher than ever before. The winner of this contest will be representing the NFC in Super Bowl 50. The Carolina Panthers steamrolled through the entire NFC by finishing the regular season with a record of 15-1.
There were, at least, a few games during their 15-1 campaign that the Panthers failed to put away teams but eventually prevailed at the end. I’ll tell you right now, if the Panthers are up by at least 30 in this ball game, and they fail to put away the Cardinals, they will not make it to Super Bowl 50.
Unlike previous opponents such as the Saints and Giants, the Cardinals have a defense that can protect leads if their offense can put up some points. Panthers head coach Ron Rivera decided to play not loose in the second half against the Seattle Seahawks last week. They almost blew a 31 point lead against Seattle in the divisional round last Sunday.
They cannot allow that to happen this week against the Cardinals. I also do not believe that the Panthers defense is good as advertised by many experts around the league. They benefited from an easy schedule and took advantage of teams that did not capitalize off of their mistakes when they had an opportunity.
The Cardinals by far will be their most difficult opponent to take out this season. They can win this game if their defense can keep Carson Palmer and the Cardinals offense on the sidelines as much as possible. The Panthers opponent the Arizona Cardinals must not turn the football over repeatedly like they did last week against the Green Bay Packers.
The Panthers best friend is playing on a short field, and a few turnovers caused by their defense can allow that to happen. If the Cardinals can get the running game back on track, it will benefit their offense significantly.
The Cardinals defense is what kept them alive last week’s game against the Packers. They may need a similar performance against the Panthers if quarterback Carson Palmer is off track once again.
My prediction for this contest is that it will be won by the team that can run the football successfully this Sunday, and that team will be the Arizona Cardinals when it is all said and done. The Cardinals will be the team to represent the NFC in Super Bowl 50 on February 7. “River Boat Ron” must be in full effect in this contest; you cannot be too conservative in a game of this magnitude.
Photo credits by www.panthers.com