The 11-5 Arizona Cardinals will have to hit the road for their Wild Card appearaNCe to take on the 7-8-1 Carolina Panthers. The Game will kick off at 4:35 pm est. on Saturday afternoon with the Panthers currently -6.5 point favorites, up from an opener of -4 and that line may continue to rise up until Game time. The current total as of Wednesday is 38.
It’s extremely difficult to advise playing a team that has scored the following in their last 7 Games: 14, 3, 18, 17, 12, 6,and 17. Unless of course the team they are playing scored 17, 13, 19 and 17 in Four of their last 6 Games and those scoring efforts came against Atlanta, Minnesota, Tampa and Cleveland.
Imagine the luck of these Arizona Cardinals. Last season they go 10-6 and miss the playoffs while lesser teams got in. This year, despite their QB problems, they go 11-5 and now have to travel and play a road Game against a team with a losing record!
The money coming in on the Panthers, moving this line 2.5 points as of Wednesday, is understandable. It appears we have two teams going in opposite directions. The Panthers defense has improved drastically over the last few weeks while the Cardinals have lost 4 of their last 6 and have had huge problems offensively.
However, the Cardinals defense is has been consistently good all year long. They allowed more than 20 points just 3 times all season and face a Panthers team that was held to 21 points or less 11 times this year. The Cardinals yards per point number of 19.7 this season on defense was #1 in the NFL and while their offense struggled over the 2nd half of the season, their defense hung a ypp number of 21 over the last 7 Games which is better than any other team playing this weekend by a mile.
Our model, when using full season data has Arizona on top here 20-18. When using only the last 7 Games, it predicts a 16-13 Carolina win and that’s ultimately the type of Game we see here. Points figure to be hard to come by for both teams and the more this line continues to rise, the more we like the Cardinals. Despite their QB problems, we think they are the better football team in 2014. They earned their way into this Game while the Panthers backed their way in. Cardinals +6.5