The Carolina Panthers looked invincible throughout the regular season and the first few games of the NFL playoffs but they will face a stiff challenge on Sunday when they face the surging Arizona Cardinals.
Super Bowl 50 spots are on the line when the Panthers and Cardinals meet in the NFC championship match-up with the winner facing the survivor of the AFC championship game between the New England Patriots and Denver Broncos.
“Pressure and aggressiveness is evident through their entire team. Specifically on defense, they are not afraid to put guys on islands and bring people,” Panthers tight end Greg Olsen said to panthers.com.
“They are going to bring people from both sides of the field in all situations. That’s their style, they do it well. It’s a very big challenge, there’s no doubt about it.”
The Cardinals led the league in total yards per game at 408.3 yards in the regular season. They are second in passing yards per game (288.5) and eighth in rushing yards per game (119.8).
Meanwhile, the Panthers averaged 366.9 total yards per game, just in 11th place in the entire league but they are second overall in rushing yards per game (142.6) and has held opponents to just 322.9 passing yards per game (sixth in the league) and to 19.3 points per game (also sixth in the league).
Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly agreed with Olsen saying that the Cardinals have “weapons everywhere” and said their defense needs to step up in the AFC championship game.
“They’ve got a guy back there that’s throwing the ball, Carson Palmer, that’s been around for a while and he’s seen everything. He’s played at a high level, not only this year, but in the previous years. You look at who he is throwing the ball to – they kind of have everything you want,” Kuechly added.
The Panthers finished with the best record in the league in the 2015 regular season with 15 wins against a loss while the Cardinals are 13-3, second best overall in the NFL.
In the postseason, Carolina beat the Seattle Seahawks, 31-24 in the divisional round. Meanwhile, Arizona beat the Green Bay Packers, 26-20 in overtime in their own playoff opener.
The Cardinals won seven games in the regular season, a record high for the franchise but they need another victory in Carolina to advance to the Super Bowl.
Watch NFL live streaming of the conference championship game between the Cardinals and Panthers via NFL Game Pass.
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