NFC Championship Game 2016: Updated Odds, Analysis for Cardinals vs. Panthers

Danny Webster@@DannyWebster21Analyst IIIJanuary 23, 2016

Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera speaks to the media during a news conference in advance of the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals in Charlotte, N.C., Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2016. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)
Chuck Burton/Associated Press

It's the NFC Championship game that needed to happen, and it's only a day away.

The Carolina Panthers have been listed as field-goal favorites for almost the entire week, and it appears that'll go all the way to Sunday in the NFC Championship game against the Arizona Cardinals.

Good luck trying to find a clear-cut favorite to win this one at the books. Carolina is 7-2 against the spread at home this year, while Arizona has put together a shocking 6-2 mark against the spread on the road, both according to Odds Shark.

Here's an updated look at the spread heading into Sunday's conference title clash and a look at which team is the best play for Sunday.

2016 NFC Championship
MatchupTimeTVUpdated TotalUpdated Line
Arizona Cardinals at Carolina Panthers6:40 p.m. ETFOX48CAR -3
Odds Shark

Trends Show Cardinals are Better Play 

If the title game were held in Glendale, Arizona, this would favor the Panthers, believe it or not.

The Cardinals have not been good against the spread in the confines of their own home this year, going 3-6, and have failed to cover in two of their last three. Recent history between these two NFC juggernauts, however, does not favor the Panthers.

Carolina comes into the NFC title game losers of three of its last four against Arizona, with the lone win in last year's Wild Card game in Carolina. Keep in mind that Carson Palmer was not available in that game like he will be Sunday. Ryan Lindley completed 16 of 28 passes for 82 yards on that Jan. 3, 2015 evening in Charlotte.

This is who the Panthers have to deal with this time around, per NFL on ESPN:

Here's how close this game is, in terms of the sportsbook: Arizona is 10-1 in its last 11 straight up. Carolina is 16-1 straight up in its last 17 games and 10-4 against the spread in its last 14.

Carolina has found that kind of success because of the play of Cam Newton. He threw for only 161 yards against the Seattle Seahawks this past Sunday, but Newton only threw six incompletions and two touchdowns. Those are pretty good numbers.

ESPN's Trey Wingo showcases just how important it is for Carolina to have Newton as its quarterback:

The Panthers have not won back-to-back games against the Cardinals since 2007-08. Arizona may be the only team left that can go blow-for-blow with Carolina and win this game. Especially with how well the Cardinals been on the road, giving Arizona the three points may be the smartest play of the weekend.