While the NFC South champion Carolina Panthers might hold a 7-8-1 record, the Panthers are actually listed as -5.5 favorites against the 11-5 Arizona Cardinals in their playoff game at Charlotte's Bank of America Stadium. The game, which will take place at 4:20pm Eastern on ESPN, will feature the Panthers taking on a Cardinals team with an extremely shaky quarterback situation.
The Panthers had been on a 0-6-1 run midway through the season but have won their last four games in order to win the NFC South title. Quarterback Cam Newton has made it through a number of injury issues to get about 200 passing yards per game plus 539 rushing yards for the season. He is second behind Jonathan Stewart for rushing yards this year; Stewart has 809 yards this year. The Panthers also have two thousand-yard receivers this year in Greg Olsen and Kelvin Benjamin.
Linebacker Luke Kuechly led the NFL with 153 tackles this year. 99 of those tackles were listed as solo tackles.
The Arizona Cardinals will come into this game with an extremely concerning injury situation. The Cardinals' run to be the first NFL team to host a Super Bowl started strong with a 9-1 record. However, the Cardinals finished the season with a 2-4 record. To make things worse, quarterbacks Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton are out for the season.
Ryan Lindley is expected to be the starter for the Cardinals. Lindley started in the last two games, both of which were losses, and is 45-93 this year with 562 passing yards, two touchdowns and four interceptions. Michael Floyd and Larry Fitzgerald are expected to be the key receivers for the Cardinals as they have a combined total of a little more than 1,600 receiving yards.
There is a bit of solidity for the Cardinals on the ground. Kerwynn Williams, who filled in at the running back spot after Andre Ellington's injury, had a minor injury issue but has returned to full form. Williams is getting about 4.6 yards per carry this season.