Cam Newton makes his playoff debut on Sunday afternoon. It won’t exactly be a welcome mat. The Carolina Panthers host the San Francisco 49ers, a team that was literally a few yards away from winning the Super Bowl last season and who look even more formidable this season.
The Panthers, and specifically Newton, will need to be on their A game if they want to pull this one out. The Niners are loaded on both sides of the ball. On offense they feature a quarterback strikingly similar to Newton in the way he plays the game. Colin Kaepernick has a cannon and can also shred defenses with his legs.
New addition Anquan Boldin rounds out an excellent receiving core that includes ultra athletic tight end Vernon Davis and the recently returning Michael Crabtree. They can also gash teams on the ground with big power back Frank Gore.
The Panthers have an excellent front 7 and linebacking core. They will need to play like it Sunday. These two teams are very similar in that they love to run the ball and get after it on defense.
The experience factor certainly goes to the Niners. They have been here before. Jim Harbaugh and company are no strangers to January football. This is all very new to the Panthers. That should not be understated this time of year.
The Panthers have had a heck of a run getting to 12-4 and winning the NFC South after an abysmal 2012 campaign. Newton also looks to have taken the next step in his career both on and off the field.
The run will end here though. The Niners are simply too talented on both sides of the ball, and an NFC championship match up with the Seattle Seahawks almost seems destined to happen.
Final score? 24-17 49ers.