Dec 28, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Carolina Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly (59) prepares for a game against the Atlanta Falcons at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Cardinals face a red hot Panthers team that stole it’s division after winning four straight this Saturday at Charlotte.
The Cardinals offense has been awful since Carson Palmer and Drew Stanton went down towards the end of the season, meanwhile the Panthers have been good defensively, ranked 10th in yards allowed per game with 339 per game. They might not be as talented in the secondary as they are in the front seven but they still get the job done.
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The Panthers went the entire season without their big d-lineman Greg Hardy. There was a time where the team missed him but they got through it and were still able to rush the passer, getting 40 sacks this season, ranked thirteen in the league.
Big playmakers like Charles Johnson (8.5 sacks ) and Mario Addison (6.5 sacks) were the key toward the d-line playing so well. They also caused the second most fumbles with 22, so this team can make plays on the ball.
The Cardinals will have their hands full with this group.
We all know about Luke Kuechly and how good he is but the rest of his linebacking corps is pretty good too. Thomas Davis had an excellent season and A.J. Klein was decent for this team. Kuechly had another great year with over 150 total tackles, three sacks and one pick.
Davis and Klein didn’t have the same success but they had solid seasons as well. They were however in the middle of the road in rushing yards allowed per game with 112 yards.
Carolina will face an Arizona team that can run the ball and that should put some fear in Panther fans because if they can’t stop the run, it’ll be tough for them to stop Ryan Lindley when all he’ll use play-action and attack you that way.
The secondary for the Panthers had no real stars, but they have some decent talent. Ranked 22 against the pass, they did get gushed at times but they held the fort in some games.
Just look at the Saints game as an example. New Orleans was the #1 ranked passing offense at the time and the Panthers only gave up 235 to Drew Brees in his own backyard. This team can play beyond they own level at times when they’re pushed into a corner.
The Panthers are also very good at causing turnovers, with 22 forced fumbles, 12 of them recovered and 14 interceptions. They really put emphasis on takeaways.
This will be a tough challenge for the Cardinals. If they can hit a lot of play-action passes though, they should be able to take advantage of the Panthers.
I have no idea who will win. My gut says the hot team has the advantage but my brain tell me the Cards are too talented to lose this game. It will be interesting to see how this game goes.