Arizona Cardinals @ Carolina Panthers
Sunday 6:40pm EST, FOX
Spread: Carolina (-3)
One of the big story lines heading into todays NFC Championship game between the Carolina Panthers and the Arizona Cardinals are the two starting quarterbacks. Both Carson Palmer (2002) and Cam Newton (2010) won the prestigious award, and ending up being selected first overall in the following years draft. So here we are, with what should be an exciting football game.
The Panthers rolled through the regular season with only one loss coming at the hands of the Atlanta Falcons. You look at some of their wins over the course of the season, and it is very impressive where this team is today. They defeated the Seahawks (including once in the postseason), they took down the Packers 37-29, and then shit on another playoff team in the Redskins 44-16. They are all doing this while having some fun, and “Dabbing” on the sidelines. Some teams have voiced their opinions on their disapproval, but like many old timers have put it, “if you don’t want to watch us celebrate, then stop us”.
Cam Newton will win the NFL MVP award. During the regular season, the former Auburn Tiger threw for 3,837 yards while throwing for a career high 35 touchdowns (11 more than his next highest season), and a career low 10 interceptions. But what is even more impressive is how he did all this with the talent around him. Tight end Greg Olsen was his favorite target with 77 receptions. The next closest was Ted Ginn Jr. with 44. Can you imagine if he had second year WR Kelvin Benjamin for the season? Just some food for thought.
For the Cardinals and head coach Bruce Arians, this team is on a mission for its leader Larry Fitzgerald. How can you not love Larry? The former Pitt Panther has been with the Cards for his entire career. He has come oh to close to raising the Lombardi trophy, and now wants another chance to win a ring. This may be his best chance to do so. Carson Palmer has revitalized his career, similar to what Kurt Warner did after he left St. Louis. Palmer definitely needs to be in the MVP talk. The former USC Trojan put up big numbers with 4,671 passing yards, 35 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions.
One huge factor that may come into play today is the weather. With the storm that just hit the east coast, it is a little cold in Carolina. Temperature game time should be in the mid 30’s. Fun little stat here, Carson Palmer has played in 40 games when kick off temperature was in the 30’s while Cam Newton has only made one start. Will this play a factor? Maybe Cam just runs the ball more, but don’t expect to see Carson Palmer to. Palmer has some explosive weapons on the outside and will attack Josh Norman and company.
While I will be rooting for the Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald, I think Cam Newton and the Panthers will come out victorious. Looks for the Panthers to run the ball, with Cam getting his fair share of carries. The Cardinals will have to leave a spy for the strong quarterback. A huge loss for the Cardinals is safety Tyrann Mathieu, who went down late in the regular season. The honey badger was all over the field.