Arizona Cardinals vs Carolina Panthers: Tale of the tape

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The Arizona Cardinals are in Charlotte, North Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers for the NFC Championship Game at 4:40 p.m. Arizona time

When you have a 13-3 team go in to face a 15-1 team you can pretty much expect a good game.  You look for strengths and weaknesses on both sides of the ball for each team.  For the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers, they each have them.

Looking at a breakdown at position by position, these two teams may have different styles but they also both get the job done.  Any advantage one team has over the other is going to be ever so slight.


For the Cardinals, we know Carson Palmer is at the helm.  He started all 16 games in 2015 after tearing his ACL in 2014.  He threw for 4,671 yards and 35 touchdowns in 2015.  He had just 11 interceptions but did throw two last week against the Green Bay Packers.

I chalk that up to nerves and trying to do too much.  He was pushing to get that first playoff victory.  Now that he has that off his back, he can go back to his game.

Palmer threw a lot of short passes last week.  That was not necessarily by design as coach Bruce Arians allows Palmer to do what he wants for the most part.  The shots down field were not there last week.  Expect that to change on Sunday.

As for the Panthers, Cam Newton had a super season.  You can’t deny it.  His x-factor is the running game.  We know Palmer isn’t mobile. Newton scored 10 touchdowns on the ground in 2015. He also threw 35 touchdowns against 10 interceptions, very similar numbers to Palmer.  The biggest difference was yardage.  Newton threw for 3,837 yards.

Advantage: Slight advantage Panthers

Running backs:

I think as a whole, the Cardinals running game is slightly better.  However when you break it down to individuals, you can’t argue what Jonathan Stewart has done for the Panthers. Stewart rushed for 989 yards in 2015 and six touchdowns on the ground.

Speaking of the Cardinals, David Johnson has certainly put himself on the map with his 581 yards rushing and eight touchdowns on the ground in just one-third of a season as the starter.  After coming in for the injured Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington, Johnson established himself as a force to deal with for the next several years at least.  The x-factor here is Johnson’s ability to catch the ball as a receiver.  While Stewart only had 99 yards on 16 receptions and one touchdown through the air, Johnson caught 36 passes for 457 yards and four touchdowns.

The Cardinals offensive line is going to need to step it up Sunday evening.  Guards Mike Iupati and Ted Larsen need to do a much better job blocking.  If they don’t get their job done, then you could say the Panthers have the advantage.  However, I think the Cardinals offensive line will show up.

Advantage: Cardinals