Arizona Cardinals

Cardinals return to NFC Championship Game as betting underdogs

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The Arizona Cardinals will be gunning for just their second Super Bowl berth in franchise history when they clash with the Carolina Panthers in Sunday’s NFC Championship Game as 3.5-point betting underdogs at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com.

Arizona last competed on Super Sunday in 2009 after claiming a 32-25 win over the Philadelphia Eagles in their only previous appearance in an NFC title game, but takes a respectable 5-3 straight-up record in their past eight postseason contests into Sunday evening’s Cardinals vs. Panthers betting matchup at Bank of America Stadium.

The Cardinals held off a feisty Green Bay Packers squad in a 26-20 overtime win in last weekend’s Divisional Playoff matchup, but have come up short against the spread in their last two outings, and are a disappointing 3-5 ATS over their past eight.

While Arizona has been less than a solid bet for much of the year, they amassed an impressive 13-3 straight-up record this season, second only to the Panthers’ 15 regular-season victories, and are 7-1 SU on the road this season, surrendering an average of just 11 points per game over their past three away from University of Phoenix Stadium.

The Panthers hit the gridiron as the home team for the fifth time in their last six playoff contests, and are facing Arizona for a third time during that stretch, claiming a 27-16 win as 5.5-point chalk on Wild Card Weekend last season after falling 33-13 to the Cardinals in their 2009 NFC Divisional Playoff matchup, taking the outright loss as 10-point underdogs according to the OddsShark NFL Database.

Carolina has been unbeatable at home, SU winners in their past 12 and covering the spread in their past five, including last weekend’s victory over Seattle in which they exploded to an early 31-0 lead before fending off a furious second-half comeback attempt by the Seahawks, hanging on for a 31-24 victory as 2.5-point betting favorites.

That marked the highest number of points the Panthers have allowed in a home game since their 37-29 win over the Packers in Week 9, surrendering fewer than nine points per game over their final three home dates of the regular season.

The Panthers also led the NFL in points scored during the regular season, tallying 31.3 points per game, just ahead of the Cardinals, who closely trailed with 30.6 points per game, and have seen the point total play OVER in six of their past nine home dates, while the UNDER has paid out in two of the Cardinals’ last three road games.

Fitzgerald pushes Browns CB Back 10 yards with stiff-arm (VIDEO)

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There are stiff-arms and then there’s what Larry Fitzgerald just did to Pierre Desir.

After catching a quick pass in the flat, Fitzgerald looked to be stopped for a short gain, until the veteran wideout extended his arm and shoved Desir back roughly 10 yards.

That’s gotta be some sort of penalty, right? Right?