Photo credit: Scott Cunningham / Getty Images Sport
Author: Jon Kuzma
Carolina and Arizona will meet up in the NFC championship game this weekend. These teams have a few similarities and you can clearly tell why they both made it this far. First and foremost they both have dynamic offenses. Whether it is Cam Newton with the Panthers beating defenses with his feet and his arm. Or Carson Palmer with the Cardinals who is the poised pocket passer making the big time throws. Both quarterbacks lead these offenses and put their team in a position to win football games. As far as the running game comparison goes. The Panthers have the advantage being ranked second in the league with a 142.6 yards per game average. That is compared to the Cardinals 119 yards per game and 8th overall ranking. The Panthers main contributor in those outstanding rushing efforts is Jonathan Stewart. Who finished the season with 989 rushing yards and 6 touchdowns. Cam Newton is also a very lethal rusher for this Panthers offense. He ran for 636 yards and 10 touchdowns for the season. Proving that he gets it done in other ways besides just passing the ball for this offense. As far as the defense goes for both teams. The Carolina Panther surrendered 308 points in the regular season compared to the Cardinals 313. That 313 points was also before the Cardinals Tyrann Mathieu was sidelined with an ACL tear in his right knee. The Cardinals were able to get pass the Packers without the honey badger but sooner or later they are going to miss that 5 interception a year production on the backend of the defense. For the Panthers defense they will have to get over the loss of Jarred Allen. Allen will likely miss the game this weekend with a foot injury. Still Luke Kuechly and company will pose a serious threat for Carson Palmer and the Cardinals. The Panthers D gave Russell Wilson fits early on in the NFC divisional round and they will try to emulate that success this weekend against Arizona.
Keep an eye on Larry Fitzgerald, Fitzgerald was the x factor last weekend for the Cardinals. He can single handedly put the team on his back and win games for the Cardinals. If the team wants to make it to Levi Stadium and the Super Bowl it will need two more big performances from Larry Fitzgerald. Will that be enough to get past the Panthers? It’s hard to say but it will be nearly impossible for the Cardinals to win if Fitzgerald doesn’t show up and have a big game. For the Panther they just have to keep playing solid defense and stick to the ground game. Those have been the keys to their success.
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