The Arizona Cardinals and Carolina Panthers both have quite a bit in common. They each are led by a Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback (Carson Palmer for Arizona, and Cam Newton for Carolina), both teams finished first and second respectively in scoring during the regular season, and they have experienced coaches that have helped lead the way.
And those are just some of the aspects that are shared between the two franchises.
In the divisional round of the playoffs, the Carolina Panthers had amassed a 31-0 lead over the Seattle Seahawks entering halftime. However, they allowed Seattle to mount a comeback up to the point to where it was just a touchdown score separating the two teams. But the Panthers were able to pull off the victory.
As for Arizona, they faced the Green Bay Packers in what many considered the most thrilling playoff game in a while, with Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers throwing a game-tying touchdown in the final play of regulation to send the game into overtime. But they never had a shot to score in overtime, as the Cardinals offense, led by Palmer and veteran Larry Fitzgerald, scored on the opening drive.
For the Cardinals, the biggest key will be stopping the essential MVP in the league… Newton. He is a dangerous force, both with his arms and his legs, and is able to use the young, inexperienced weapons around him and make a highly competitive offensive unit. His favorite target is tight end Greg Olsen, who caught 77 passes for 1,104 yards and seven touchdowns.
Carolina’s best strategy to beat Arizona is not to take the veteran Palmer’s abilities for granted, nor underestimate him. He’s got good speed for a 36-year old coming off an ACL tear, and is accurate while in the pocket, mainly aiming for Fitzgerald. With the talented receiving corps Arizona has, featuring Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd, and John Brown, the secondary of Carolina has to cut their routes, to force Palmer to make throws he normally wouldn’t.
This game could go either way, in what is expected to be a highly competitive match-up.
(Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)