When the Carolina Panthers hosted the Arizona Cardinals in Charlotte for a Wild Card Playoff matchup, the Panthers won 27-16, which paid OVER bettors given that the total had been set to 37½ on the NFL odds board. This year, the game total has opened at 47, almost 10 points higher than last season—a clear indication of how both teams are improved offensively and the expectation from the NFL betting public that we could be in for a high-scoring game in the NFC Championship Game Odds. Can the two team live up to their rightfully hyped offenses to deliver an OVER total, or will their equally improved defenses drag down the total scores for an UNDER pay-out? Find out as we take you through an early game total betting preview of this NFC Conference Championship matchup.
Despite getting manhandled by the Seahawks in Week 17 and scoring just 6 points in the process, Arizona finished the regular season ranked #1 in offensive efficiency with 6,533 total yards (averaging at an NFL-best 408.3 YPG), 30.6 PPG (second-best in the NFL) and were the only NFL team to outgain its opponents by 1-plus yards per play on offense.
On the opposite side, Carolina’s offense was ranked #11 in offensive efficiency, tallying 5,871 total yards (366.9 YPG), but proved to be very good at putting up scores on the board with 31.3 PPG (best mark in the NFL from the regular season). Interestingly, in their first playoff game last week, they scored exactly 31 points (all in the first half), with the Cam Newton-led offense accounting for three scores (2 rushing and 1 passing) plus a field goal after their star defender Luke Kuechly set the tone of the game with an interception returned for a TD.
Keeping both offenses in mind, both teams should be good for at least 3 touchdowns a piece, along with a field goal or two, which should take the total well OVER 47.
The Cardinals are just as good, if not slightly better, having a fifth-ranked defense that gave up just 321.7 YPG and 19.6 PPG (in the regular season). Over the weekend, this defense was guilty of conceding a cheap game-ending Hail-Mary touchdown pass from Aaron Rodgers that sent the game to send the game to OT, but that doesn’t change the manner in which this defense held its own serviceably and allowed a single touchdown and less than 300 yards of total offense prior to the miracle pass from Rodgers.
Obviously, the fact that both teams have strong offenses means that the D-lines will be hard-pressed to keep the scores low. Still, going by their defensive numbers from the regular season and the decent shows in their Divisional Round matchup, it wouldn’t be far-fetched to say that an UNDER total could be in the offing.
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