TV Schedule: Sunday, Oct. 6, 4:05 p.m. ET, FOX
Stadium: University of Phoenix Stadium
Weather: Low 62, High 87
Line: Carolina (-2)
The Carolina Panthers like to think of themselves as a serious playoff contender this season. Sitting at 1-2 and facing a struggling Arizona Cardinals team this week could bode well for that belief. Cam Newton has been pedestrian through three games, passing for just 577 yards and six touchdowns while also rushing for 98 yards and a score. Tight end Greg Olsen has been the favorite target of the third-year quarterback, catching 16 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown to begin the season. DeAngelo Williams has seen a bit of a resurgence this season, rushing for 291 yards without a touchdown, averaging nearly 100 yards per game.
On the other side of the field, the Bruce Arians-coached Cardinals have been up-and-down this season, winning every other game thus far. Carson Palmer is the quarterback that this team needed to contend for a spot in the playoffs — it’s been a few years since the Cardinals had a solid quarterback. Palmer has 1,010 yards and four touchdowns this season, hitting Larry Fitzgerald more times than not. Fitzgerald has 21 catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns. If Palmer keeps it up, the talented wide out will forget about his poor campaign in 2012 with a mediocre quarterback at the helm.
Defensively, the Panthers are a top-10 squad in the NFL this season. Allowing just 12 points per game this season and 318.7 yards per game, the Panthers have a defense that you don’t want to try and run on. The Cardinals’ defense is the second-best run-stopping group in the league — bad news for Williams and Newton.
PREDICTION: Panthers 24, Cardinals 17