The Carolina Panthers will play host to the San Francisco 49ers in a rematch of their regular season meeting. The Panthers won the first contest 10-9 in what turned out to be a defensive battle rather than the expected shootout. Carolina limited Colin Kaepernick to just 91 yards passing, the lowest of his career. It was a close game before, and it will likely be another gritty game between the playoff-tested 49ers and upstart Panthers.
Although they're the No. 2 seed in the NFC, Carolina is actually not the favored team in this game. They will be just the third home underdog in the past 20 years.
In order to pump up his team before last week's game, Jim Harbaugh called in wrestling legend Ric Flair as a guest speaker for his Niners. They ending up winning, and they may have sparked a new trend in the NFL.
The Panthers haven't released any info on whether or not they'll be bringing in a guest speaker as well, but NFL Fantasy Live's Adam Rank thinks they should bring in one of Flair's old adversaries.
When you look at how these two teams stack up, they're pretty even in most categories. Both teams have top-10 rushing offenses and top-five defenses; even their quarterbacks have had pretty comparable numbers this season.
Both teams have had players share their thoughts on the upcoming game, and one thing is for sure—it's going to be a hard-fought game between two of the toughest teams in the NFL.
This is a pair of teams with very different things in mind this playoff season. The 49ers are questing to achieve their sixth championship, while the Panthers are salivating for their first ring. This game will pit one of the most decorated, historic franchises in the NFL against one that has had many seasons like the one the Cleveland Browns just had.
Carolina had been through a slew of mediocre quarterbacks before finally landing on Newton, and it's clear their fans are happy to be done with those days.
Playing at home will be a big advantage for the Panthers in this game as they posted a 7-1 record in their own stadium this season. They were on the road the last time these two teams met and still pulled out a victory; being at home should only help. It will be a smashmouth game tailored to Carolina's benefit.