Cardinals face tough test in Newton’s Panthers
January 23, 2016
This Sunday, a berth to Super Bowl 50 is on the line for our beloved hometown Cardinals as they head to snowy Charlotte, North Carolina to face the Carolina Panthers.
After last week’s heart-stopping game, the Cardinals get no breaks as they face a Panthers team that lost only once all season, and twice since November 30, 2014.
These teams are no strangers to each other in the postseason. Last year in the wild card round, a Ryan Lindley-led Cardinals team made the trek to Charlotte only to lose 27-16 and be held to 76 yards of offense.
Six years before that, a fateful Cardinals team, which many considered one of the worst playoff teams in history, destroyed the Panthers 33-13 on the road and forced five interceptions against ex-Panthers QB Jake Delhomme on their way to the franchise’s first Super Bowl berth.
Now the Panthers stand in the way of the Cards return to the Super Bowl, and they don’t plan on letting it be an easy game.
The Panthers are led by Cam Newton, who will undoubtedly win the MVP, and a defense that stuffs the run and terrorizes quarterbacks. With a 15-1 regular season record and a 31-24 victory over two time reigning NFC champion Seattle Seahawks last weekend, Carolina is riding high.
The Cards roll in after a lackluster performance against the Packers which saw two hail marys, a botched coin flip and Larry Fitzgerald showing why he’s the best Cardinal ever. If they want to get back on track and be in Santa Clara come February 7th, they are going to have to rebound big time.
For the Cards to win in Charlotte this weekend, they are going to have to contain Cam Newton. The dude is a freak of nature and can beat you with his arm or with his legs. If the D-line and safety-turned-middle linebacker Deone Bucannon can keep Cam in the pocket, and the secondary can step up like they have all year, there’s a chance Cam’s production drops off.
On the offensive side, Carson Palmer needs to play better. He was horrific against Green Bay and every time he threw a pass it seemed it should have been picked off. The Cardinals are going to have to rely more on the run game in the cold weather, but with the Panthers solid front seven, Palmer is going to need to step up when he’s needed.
In the end, I believe SuperCam will just be too much for the Cards D, and Chandler Catanzaro’s inopportune extra point misses will again haunt the Cards. Prediction: Panthers 24, Cardinals 20.
I am a senior at OHS and this is my first year in the OC Journalism Department. I will be covering sports stories this year, which I’m excited about...