Liev Jackson NFC Betting Picks: A Shaky Arizona Team Meets a Dominant One in Carolina
Sunday, January 24, 2016
by Liev Jackson

Liev Jackson NFC Betting Picks: A Shaky Arizona Team Meets a Dominant One in Carolina

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers

Cardinals: 14-3 SU,9-8 ATS
Panthers: 16-1 SU,12-5 ATS
6:40 PM ET, Sunday, January 24, 2016
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina

Many would say the Arizona Cardinals were lucky to escape the desert with a win last week over Green Bay. And who could argue after the Packers completed two Hail Mary’s on their final drive of regulation including the last play with no time left on the clock.

A different coin flip or perhaps a bold move to go for two once they scored that touchdown and we may be talking about a Packers-Panthers NFC Championship.

But the thing is, Arizona has been one of the best teams in the NFL and certainly the NFC all season. Their offence is legitimate, their defence ferocious and their coach is not afraid to take chances. Those ingredients add up to wins more often than not.

Before that final drive that amounted to 100 passing yards on two fortunate plays the Cardinals had managed to keep Aaron Rodgers to 160 passing yards through 59 minutes and that was in spite of a running game that worked pretty well.

If anything kept Green Bay within striking distance it was a shaky Carson Palmer looking for his first playoff victory after 10 years and a lot of bad teams and luck. He threw two interceptions in the red zone (including one at the goal line) and got away with a couple more throws that could have also been picked.

So the most important question when evaluating what direction to take in this game is if you give Palmer the benefit of the doubt or if you think this is what playoff Palmer is going to give you.

One thing to consider is the play he made that broke the game Arizona’s way in overtime. Yes Larry Fitzgerald was dynamite in the open field as he rumbled for 75 yards all the way to the 5. But the Cards had to be reeling after the last minute Green Bay heroics to tie the game and they needed their offence to step up. Palmer evaded a sack on the game’s penultimate play and then had the QB sense to throw across his body to a wide open Fitzgerald. It was a big league play in every sense of the word.

It also helped to expand upon the legend of Fitzgerald. His 8-176-1 day is just another notch on the belt for a player who is earning his reputation as among the most clutch playoff receivers to ever play the game. In 8 career games he now has a line of 53-912-10, which is mind-boggling.

The Cards are blessed with the most dangerous group of receivers left in the playoffs, as Fitzgerald, John Brown (65-1003-7) and Michael Floyd (52-849-6) have each had their moments as the featured target this year. RB David Johnson (125-581-8 running / 36-457-4 receiving) has also been electric as the starter once Chris Johnson went down, but was overshadowed last week as he went for 15-35-0 on the ground and 6-43 in the air.

Overall this was the #1 team for yards/game ((408.3) and #2 in scoring at 30.6 P/G. They were also tied for 7th in points allowed at 19.6 P/G and were 8th at 230.4 Passing Y/G and 6th with 91.3 rushing Y/G. They were 20th with 36 sacks and fourth overall in the takeaway game causing 33 turnovers.

What Carolina did in the first half against Seattle might have been the best half any team has played season as they raced to a 31-0 lead. The likely MVP QB Cam Newton was brilliant engineering drives such as the ones that put them up 14-0 and 24-0 with a series of big strikes across the field. RB Jonathan Stewart set the tone on the opening play with his 59 yard run and eventually he netted two touchdowns.

And what can you say about that defence that seemed to anticipate what QB Russell Wilson was going to do before he did as they manufactured two interceptions that led to 14 points and also got to Wilson for 5 sacks on the day.

It was the sixth time those teams have met in the past four years and it showed.

Carolina and Arizona have only met once in the past three years and it was in last year’s playoffs where the Panthers rolled to a 27-16 win and Arizona gained a total of 78 yards for the entire game. But it is hard to read too much into that as the Cards were a shell of themselves by that point of the season as they played QB carousel once Palmer went down for the year.

On the whole though Carolina has been just a smidgen better than Arizona all year with the #1 scoring offence (31.3 PPG), the #6 defence in scoring (19.3 P/G), 11th against the pass (234.5 Y/G) and 4th against the rush (88.4 Y/G), #1 in the turnover ratio department (39-19= +20) and sixth overall with 44 sacks.

Against opponents who finished above .500 (playoffs included), the numbers read:

Arizona 5-2, outscoring opponents 26-25

Carolina 5-0, outscoring opponents 33-22.

Arizona is without S Tyrann Mathieu, RB Chris Johnson, LB Alex Okafor, DE Cory Redding, and LB Lamar Woodley.

The Panthers are missing DE Jared Allen, CB Charles Tillman, CB Bene Benwikere and G Amini Silatolu.

Bovada has the Panthers favorites at 3½-point favorites and the total sitting at 47½ according to

On the NFL Football Moneyline Odds at BetOnline Panthers are the Favorite at -162.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers Odds & Betting Lines

Gm# Team
313 Arizona
314 Carolina

Live NFL Football Odds & Scores - Click here

Last time out for Carolina, they were a 31-24 winner as they battled the Seahawks at home. The Panthers covered in the match as a -2.5-point favorite, while 55 combined points moved the game OVER for totals bettors.

The Cardinals were a 26-20 winner in their most recent outing at home against the Packers. They failed to cover the -7-point spread as favorites, while the total score (46) made winners of UNDER bettors.

Arizona Cardinals vs. Carolina Panthers NFL Betting Odds & Trends

Arizona is 10-1 SU in its last 11 games
The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Arizona's last 7 games
Arizona is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games on the road

Carolina is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 games
Carolina is 16-1 SU in its last 17 games
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Carolina's last 8 games

The Bottom Line: Put me in the camp where the real Palmer is the one capable of making that game changing throw who was getting a career playoff monkey off his back. Those kinds of game can bring out the jitters, but he stepped up when he needed to. The problem is that the Panthers are just as battle tested and talented at so many key positions and will have the home field crowd. But what we saw last week is something that repeated itself many times over the second half which is a little bit of a missing killer instinct that helped the opponent stay in the game. I expect Arizona to throw a lot to the secondary receivers not covered by Josh Norman and that should at least help them to keep it to 3 points or less and a cover. The Pick: Arizona 30-27.

Liev NFL Prediction: Arizona +3 at MyBookie


alex okafor - amini silatolu - arizona cardinals - bene benwikere - cam newton - carolina panthers - carson palmer - charles tillman - chris johnson - chris johnson

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