Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers: Betting Odds, Analysis, NFL Pick

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers: Betting Odds, Analysis, NFL Pick
Bob Leverone/Associated Press

The top-seeded Carolina Panthers (16-1) will look to stay unbeaten at home when they host the second-seeded Arizona Cardinals (14-3) in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game.

The Panthers improved to 9-0 straight up and 7-2 against the spread at Bank of America Stadium last Sunday with a 31-24 win over the two-time defending NFC champion Seattle Seahawks, and they are 8-3 SU in the past 11 meetings with Arizona.

Point Spread: The Panthers opened as four-point favorites. The total was 47.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by Odds Shark (line updates and matchup report).

Odds Shark Computer Pick: Panthers 28.4, Cardinals 20.2

Why the Cardinals Can Cover the Spread

While the Cardinals looked shaky throughout their 26-20 overtime win versus the Green Bay Packers last Saturday, they should be much more comfortable here despite playing on the road.

Arizona obviously had some butterflies and should have never allowed Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers to tie it up at the end of regulation with his second successful Hail Mary touchdown pass of the season.

But sometimes just surviving a game like that helps a team build confidence for the next one.

No player will be more important for Arizona in this matchup at Carolina than quarterback Carson Palmer, who threw for 349 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions in the victory against the Packers. Palmer’s finger seemed to bother him a little bit, but he has a lot more experience than his counterpart Cam Newton and will be facing a secondary that just got shredded by Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson in the second half.

Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald also has the potential to have another big performance coming off eight catches for 176 yards and a touchdown.

Why the Panthers Can Cover the Spread

Newton played like the NFL MVP during the regular season but did not need to show off his skills too much versus Seattle because the Panthers got off to such a fast start.

He remains arguably the most dangerous signal-caller in the league with his arm and feet, though, and will likely study how Rodgers picked apart Arizona’s defense during Green Bay’s comeback.

The return of running back Jonathan Stewart is also huge for Carolina, as he proved how valuable he can be with 19 carries for 106 yards and two touchdowns against the Seahawks. A more balanced offense only makes Newton stronger.

Defensively, the Panthers are a little banged up but will feed off the home crowd like last week.

Linebacker Luke Kuechly is a difference-maker who made an immediate impact with an early interception of Wilson that resulted in the game’s second touchdown for a 14-0 lead. That helped set the tone and got the fans involved from the start as Carolina won its 12th consecutive home game dating back to last season.

Smart Pick

Coaching could be the difference in this matchup, with Arizona’s Bruce Arians holding an edge over Ron Rivera of the Panthers.

The Cardinals have won their last six games as underdogs of three or fewer points, and they are also 5-0 SU and 4-1 ATS in their past five on the road. Take Arians' team to surprise Carolina with its first home loss.

Betting Trends

  • The Cardinals are 3-8 SU in their last 11 games against the Panthers.
  • The Cardinals are 1-4 SU in their last five games on the road against the Panthers.
  • The Panthers are 12-0 SU in their last 12 games at home.
  • The Panthers are 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games.

All point spread and lines data courtesy of Odds Shark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line movement updates and get the free odds tracker app.

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