Panthers vs. Cardinals: 2016 NFC Championship Game Predictions

Sunday’s first championship game will be in the NFC as the 14-3 Arizona Cardinals go on the road to face the 16-1 Carolina Panthers in Charlotte. The top two seeds in the conference have shown some great offenses and solid defenses all season long. The question though is which team will have enough on both sides of the ball to move on to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara on February 7. Here are five predictions for the NFC Championship Game. 
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
The Arizona defense is the star of the game. Even without Tyrann Mathieu, this is a very key portion of the game with how good the Cardinals defense is. They have scored on two fumble recoveries and four interceptions this season. They are ball hawks and in this game even with an improved Cam Newton under center for the Panthers, Arizona’s defense is going to take the ball away four times and score at least once on defense. In a game where people may believe it will be all offense, the defenses are going to shine.
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Cam Newton has 350 all-purpose yards. It is very hard to slow down Newton with his 6-5 frame in the passing game and in the run game as well as he had 636 rushing yards in the regular season. While the Cardinals are going to have a great day against Newton, this won’t stop him from having 270 passing yards and 80 more on the ground. It is simply too difficult to slow down Newton for an entire game. He is going to be the lone piece of the Carolina offense that is going to work out well on Sunday afternoon.
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
David Johnson rushes for over 160 yards. One of the biggest stars of the regular season was Johnson and his breakout game in Week 15. The Panthers have a very good defense but can be exposed at times. Johnson will make sure that happens and will run wild through the Carolina secondary. He did average 4.6 yards per carry in the regular season and should average about that in this game as well. It will take some pressure off of Carson Palmer in the pass game on the road looking for a Super Bowl appearance.
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Carolina’s defense scores twice. Here is the x-factor for this game. Will the Panthers make Palmer’s life miserable when he does pass the ball? The answer to that is yes. Palmer did throw 11 interceptions in the regular season and the Panthers are going to find a way to pick off two of his passes and return both for touchdowns. It is a very bold prediction but if the Panthers play anywhere close to the way they did in the first half against the Seahawks, they are going to make this happen early in the game.
(Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
It comes down to a late touchdown….In a game that is going to feature three defensive scores; it is going to come down to an offensive touchdown to win this game. Carson Palmer will lead his Cardinals down the field in the closing minutes and will find John Brown for the winning touchdown with under a minute to go which gives Arizona a 28-24 win and a berth in Super Bowl 50. It is bound to be a disappointing conclusion to a great season for the Panthers but the Cardinals are simply the better team.

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