NFL championship games picks: Predicting each playoff game
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers (-3)
It’s the game we all wanted to see between the two best teams in the NFC. The Carolina Panthers (16-1) have been quite sensational this season, but the Arizona Cardinals (14-3) aren’t far behind.
Cam Newton should be the league MVP this season, but Carson Palmer has had an outstanding year too. This will be an intriguing battle between two top-tier defenses. Let’s look at the comparisons between the two teams: Carolina is No. 11 in total offense (No. 24 in passing, No. 2 in rushing); Arizona is No. 1 in total offense (No. 2 in passing and No. 8 in rushing).
Carolina is No. 6 in total defense (No. 11 against the pass, No. 4 against the run); Arizona is No. 5 in total defense (No. 8 against the pass, No. 6 against the run). On paper, the edge is with the Cardinals.
But over the past few weeks, the Panthers have been the best team. The Cardinals were blown out at home in Week 17, and looked shaky against the Packers in last week’s divisional round game. Carson Palmer was particularly nervous and almost threw away the Cardinals’ chances in the fourth quarter. But when it came down to it, he made an incredible play to find Larry Fitzgerald in the play that all but ended it in overtime. Palmer has his first win in the postseason, and will take that confidence into this week’s game.
The Panthers on the other hand, raced off to a 31-0 lead against Seattle, but avoided a late collapse, holding on to win 31-24. How will they fare in this one?
It’s tough to pick, but before the playoffs started I predicted the Cardinals would get through Carolina en route to the Super Bowl, and I’m sticking to it.
Pick: Arizona 28, Carolina 24
Last week: 4-0
Regular season: 147-98