Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers- 1/3/15 NFL Pick, Odds, and Prediction
Arizona Cardinals (11-5) at Carolina Panthers (7-8-1)
NFL Football: Saturday, January 3, 2015 at 4:35 pm (Bank of America Stadium)
The Line: Carolina Panthers -4.5 -- Over/Under: 38.5 See the Latest Odds
The Carolina Panthers clinched the NFC South in Week 17 and now host a wild card match up against the short handed Cardinals at Bank of America Stadium.
USA TODAY Sports
The Arizona Cardinals were the talk of the league through the first three months of the season and were the driver's seat to lock up the spot seed in the NFC but a laundry list of injuries has them reeling and in a tough position on the road. The Cards will be without Andre Ellington and Carson Palmer who are surely the team's best options offensively and even backup Drew Stanton who found a ton of success in a relief effort will be out as well leaving Arizona's playoff and Super Bowl dreams in the arm of Ryan Lindley. It is no secret that Arizona wins with their defense as Patrick Peterson and co. are among the league's best and even on days where their offense sputters the defense is more than capable of picking up the slack and securing a victory but in a playoff atmosphere on the road it could prove to be quite difficult despite having four more victories than their opponent. Arizona lost their last two contests heading into the postseason while the Panthers won their final four games and appear to be hitting their stride at the right time.
Carolina was expected to be a Super Bowl contender this season with Cam Newton running the offense and Luke Keuchly manning the defense but a slow start and inconsistent play through the first 12 weeks had them on the outside looking in. However, a four game winning streak that was capped off be a shellacking of the Atlanta Falcons to win the division has the Panthers in the postseason with a losing record as the NFC South champions and they'll be looking for more on Saturday at home. The Panthers could be a dangerous team despite their lackluster offense and ground game that isn't too imposing but with Newton's ability to tuck the ball and bail out with his feet and Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin catching it through the air the Panthers should be able to find success even with Arizona's defense being what it is. It is tough to side with a team with a losing record and the Cardinals did finish with an 11-5 record but at the moment these are two very different teams as the Cats have won four in a row and have been playing playoff football for weeks while the Cards are in a tailspin and don't have the roster they once had. I don't like the line but I think the Panthers are in a good position here and I think they get the win at home.