Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers: Preview, prediction

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The Arizona Cardinals take on the Carolina Panthers in an NFC Wild Card matchup

The Arizona Cardinals travel to Charlotte, North Carolina for a Wild Card matchup against the NFC South division winning Carolina Panthers.  The Cardinals finished the season second in the NFC West and an 11-5 record.  Carolina won their last four games to finish 7-8-1.

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History:  The Cardinals and Panthers have met 12 times in the regular season and once previously in the playoffs.  The Panthers have am 8-4 record against the Cardinals in the regular season.  The Cardinals won the only time the two met in the playoffs after the 2008, back in January 2009 when the Cardinals traveled to Charlotte and defeated the Panthers 33-13 on the way to the Super Bowl.

What: Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers

Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, NC

When: 2:20 p.m. Arizona Time (4:20 p.m. ET)

TV: ESPN (CW 61 locally if no cable) – Mike Tirico (play-by-play), Jon Gruden (color analyst), Lisa Salters (sideline reporter)

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM – Dave Pasch (play-by-play), Ron Wolfley (color analyst), Paul Calvisi (sideline reporter); SiriusXM 225/Internet 800 (Cardinals feed), SiriusXM 85/Internet 804 (Panthers feed), SiriusXM 88/Internet 88 (National feed)

Keys to victory:

We’ve all heard the story.  Arizona has been all about next man up.  Arizona is on quarterback number three.  They can’t win.  They are underdogs.  They can’t play defense.  They have no chance.  This is the worst NFL playoff game ever.  I’ve heard it all this week.  However just when you think you know what it going to happen, the unexpected takes place.

This is not to say I don’t expect the Cardinals to win.  To do so though will take a toughness on defense that has been lacking the last couple of weeks, especially against the run.  The Cardinals allowed 267 yards on the ground against the Seattle Seahawks two weeks ago.  Last week against the San Francisco 49ers, they gave up 206 yards rushing.  As of November 16th after the victory over the Detroit Lions, the Cards were third in rushing defense in the NFL.  They ended ranked 13th.  They will need to stop a very good Panthers rushing offense.  They rushed for 127.3 yards per game this season.

The defense has had a lot of missed tackles as well the past couple of weeks.  Linebacker Larry Foote missed the regular-season finale last Sunday but he is ready to go on Saturday against the Panthers.  Defensive tackle Frostee Rucker is good to go as well.  The biggest question on defense is defensive tackle Dan Williams.  He is listed as questionable for Saturday.