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Even though they have won 12 home games in a row, Cam Newton and the Carolina Panthers are just a slight favorite against the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC title game betting matchup.
The Panthers, who are 9-0 this season at Bank of America Stadium, are listed as 3-point favorites against the visiting Cardinals at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. Arizona is 7-1 SU on the road, but underdogs are 2-10 SU in conference championship games across the last six NFL postseasons.
The Panthers, 16-1 SU and 12-5 ATS, looked the part of a Super Bowl contender while defeating Seattle 31-24 in the divisional round to ensure the NFC of a new Super Bowl representative. They are 4-1 SU in their last five games against Arizona.
Newton, who has accounted for 27 TD with just one interception over his last nine starts, will have to maintain that ball security against a speedy Cardinals defense. The Panthers will have to count on oft-injured RB Jonathan Stewart to hold up and keep them in favorable down-and-distance scenarios.
In the passing phase, TE Greg Olsen is always a candidate for a 100-yard day, but the Panthers’ nondescript WR corps of Ted Ginn Jr. and Devin Funchess have a tough matchup against CB Patrick Peterson and Jerraud Powers. The Panthers are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games.
Arizona, 14-3 SU and 9-8 ATS, needs QB Carson Palmer to put his mistakes in the divisional playoff game against Green Bay behind him. The Cardinals are 6-0 SU and ATS in their last six games when underdogs of three or fewer points. Coach Bruce Arians’ team is also 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in their last five road games.
The biggest mismatch Arizona enjoys comes via the WR quartet of Larry Fitzgerald, John Brown, Michael Floyd and J.J. Nelson, since Carolina’s CB corps is thin beyond CB Josh Norman.
The Cardinals’ run blockers could be hard-pressed to get push for RB David Johnson. Arizona’s passing game that stretches the field horizontally and not just vertically could force MLB Luke Kuechly and the Panthers’ linebackers to play deeper, which would open rushing lanes.
The total for Sunday’s Cardinals vs. Panthers betting matchup is set at 47.5 points at the sportsbooks. The total has gone OVER in five of the Cardinals’ last seven games in January. The total has gone OVER in six of the Panthers’ last eight games.