Phenomenal Playoff Predictions: Cardinals @ Panthers

TJ JenkinsAnalyst IJanuary 7, 2009

Phenomenal Predictions Presents : The 2009 NFL Playoffs (Divisional Round)

Arizona Cardinals (9-7) @ Carolina Panthers (12-4)

When you think of the Cardinals you either think that they earned their playoff spot by beating the Falcons, or that all they did was beat a rookie Quarterback. Either way, they have a chance to prove themselves, and more importantly their defense has a chance to show that last week against Turner wasn’t a fluke.

They’re facing one of the best rushing tandems in the league. The Panthers get to show off that rushing tandem, and their pass defense is going to be tested.

Cardinals' Keys to the Game

Stop The Run

It doesn’t get any more basic than that for the Cardinals. If they stop Stewart and Williams, then they’re going to win. Can they do it? Probably not. But, this is the NFL, and this is the playoffs. Anything can happen.

Establish The Run

Again, seems basic. James and Hightower have to get going to open up the passing attack of the Cardinals. Boldin and Fitzgerald can make any catch on the field, but if the Panthers are dropping eight into coverage, it greatly reduces the chances of the Cardinals winning this one.

Panthers' Keys to the Game

Establish The Run

Considering they have Stewart and Williams, this is a no brainer. If they look like they did against the Buccaneers, they’ll be fine, and cruising to the NFC Championship game. If not, it’s going to be a long day for the Panthers.

Shut Down The Pass

Fitzgerald, Boldin, Breaston, Warner. How do you stop them all? I honestly don’t know that there’s a way. But I do know that step one is to get a pass rush on Warner. Step two is up to the secondary not looking lost against two of the best receivers in the game. It’s going to be tough, but it’s going to come down to who wants it more.

TJ’s Prediction 

Panthers win, 27-14.

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