ARIZONA CARDINALS @ CAROLINA PANTHERS
Something strange happens to Arizona whenever they head across two time zones and they are an incredible 2-20 on the East Coast, 0-5 this season, which include a couple of massive recent losses, by 40 points in New England over Christmas and a 28 point thumping in front of the nation, at Philly on Thanksgiving Day, that they will want to forget. Their average margin of defeat in those five games was over 20 points, helped only by a 27-23 loss in Carolina back in October. Everything was going well for them that day, they were on top of their game and led 17-3 early in the third quarter, but then pressed the self destruct button, failing on a fake field goal attempt, missing an extra point and making far too many simple errors, it was like they were scared to win in the East. They have tried everything to break the cycle, flying early, flying late, staying over for a week, nothing works !
They played about as well as they could in the earlier meeting and the Panthers, who remain the only unbeaten home team in the NFL, as poorly as they are able, at least for almost three quarters. Therefore, it is hard to see them winning in Carolina, against a well rested and better balanced team and if the home secondary step up their game, it could be a rout. Despite the narrow earlier win, the Panthers have won all their home games by an average of over 15 points and in Jake Delhomme, who celebrates his 34th birthday today, they have the quarterback with the highest post season pass rating left in the playoffs. He is ably assisted by two running backs with over 2300 yards and 28 touchdowns between them, a star receiver in Steve Smith, coming off arguably his best ever season and has other offensive options too. Arizona have a daunting offensive threat also, but it is a little one dimensional and they will be missing much of it, if Boldin fails a late fitness test. The Panthers are a much stronger all round team, I simply cannot see them not winning and expect them to cover the handicap with a degree of comfort.
6 points Carolina -10 points 2.08 Vegas Line.... now 1.99
1 point Carolina to win by 19-24 points 7.0 + .... 8.0 Corals/ 7.50 Bet 365