The Arizona Cardinals
return to Bank of America Stadium to face the Carolina Panthers
and will attempt to avenge a 27-23 defeat
in week eight in Charlotte. The Panthers
went a perfect 8-0 at home this season and will prove to be the toughest test of any road team this weekend.
The Panthers (12-4) trailed 17-3 in the third quarter before scoring three of the next four touchdowns in the game, two of which came by Pro Bowler Steve Smith to give the Panthers a lead they would never relinquish.
In that game, the Cards were limited to just 50 yards on the ground while Panthers RB DeAngelo Williams rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown. Kurt Warner
was able to have a nice day through the air, hooking up for 381 yards with a couple TD tosses.
Jake Delhomme completed 20/28 for 248 yards and two touchdowns, both to Smitty. Smith led all receivers with five grabs for 117 yards. His numbers on Saturday will likely resemble those of week eight's, but may be much bigger.
Due to the Panthers strong running back duo of Williams and Jonathan Stewart, it will force single coverage against Smith and Moose. Jake will have plenty of time to throw with the way the offensive line has been playing as of late. Expect a lot of over the middle passes to go to Smith, and may God help the Arizona secondary.
The Cards (10-7) do have Kurt Warner, but with Anquan Boldin's status uncertain, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston will have to step up, and beat both Kenny Lucas and Chris Gamble deep. Breaston had nine catches for 91 yards in the loss earlier this season and Fitz led the team seven receptions for 115.
It will be interesting to see if Edge will get carries, considering his pivotal rushing attack in last week's wild card victory over Atlanta
. His ability to carry the ball opened up the pass, and was the dagger for Hotlanta. James was limited to 17 yards in week eight, however.
Carolina is by far the biggest favorite this weekend (-10) and it should be their day, especially playing at home where they have not lost this season. My prediction: Carolina wins 37-24 and advances to the NFC Title game. Kickoff is slated for 8:15 p.m. and will be broadcast on FOX.