NFC Championship Preview

AFTER THE STORM…CAROLINA WILL HOST ARIZONA FOR THE NFC CHAMPIONSHIP

We’re writing this preview in advance of the weekend. So, there are still plenty of possible developments from the winter storm that’s ravaging the mid-Atlantic Friday and Saturday. The city of Charlotte may be dealing with a true disaster, or an overhyped chill. The Arizona Cardinals are scheduled to fly into town Saturday (weather permitting) after a morning departure from the desert. Both…neither…or one team more than the other will be dealing with whatever comes from “the blizzard of 2016.”

For now…let’s focus on the numbers. Team skill sets will be the starting point for whatever handicapping challenges present themselves between now and kickoff. Let the numbers show you the skill sets…then make the appropriate adjustments once you get the lay of the land.

Won-Lost Records
Arizona: 13-3 (#16 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)
Carolina: 15-1 (#32 ranked schedule according to Sagarin)

We’re using regular season numbers only in the playoffs (as always) to limit sample size concerns. Carolina definitely benefitted from playing a very easy schedule this year. These two teams are being priced like they’re dead even. Wouldn’t be a shock at all if Carolina had fallen to 13-3 against the league average schedule that Arizona faced. Clearly teams who deserved the byes they earned. Carolina had it easy…but it’s hard to go 15-1 in this league even when you have it easy!

2015 Yards-Per-Play
Arizona: 6.3 on offense, 5.2 on defense
Carolina: 5.5 on offense, 4.9 on defense

Arizona had the much more explosive offense, which allowed them to soar past the magic mark of six yards-per-play. Carolina had the superior of the two defenses…though Arizona wasn’t any slouch on that side of the ball either. Arizona’s +0.9 versus Carolina’s +0.6 likely would have grown against even schedules. So, Arizona is potentially a dangerous dog based on those numbers. On the other hand…if game conditions help neutralize offense…then Carolina’s superior defense may garner the ultimate edge.

2015 Turnover Differential
Arizona: +9
Carolina: +20

Carolina did a much better job in the risk-reward area…which could also prove important if conditions create penalties for high risk football. Arizona can become interception prone when trying to force things downfield. The storm should be long gone by kickoff. But, field conditions could make it much harder for Arizona to move the ball given their preferred approach. You saw that it took Seattle a half to figure things out last week…and they lost that half 31-0! It would be easy to pick Arizona if this game were being played indoors on a fast track. No such luck for Cardinals fans.

2015 Market Performance
Arizona: 9-7 ATS
Carolina: 11-5 ATS (10-5-1 to the Over)

Arizona failed to cover last week, while Carolina covered in another Over game vs. Seattle. So, that’s now 23-10-1 for “Carolina and Over” this season as the market continues to underestimate Cam Newton’s ability to find the end zone. If you’re thinking Over here…be sure you get the latest on field conditions before kickoff.

Current Line: Carolina by 3, total of 48

There are indications that Carolina will move to -3.5 by the time you read this. Though, it’s possible the line could have gone up to -3.5, and then back to the three by then too! Seems pretty clear that the public wants Carolina -3, while “the sharps” have been waiting for the +3.5 before stepping in on the dog. Who should YOU play at and WHAT price?

JIM HURLEY and his full team of experts will cover all the angles. Today’s numbers are just a starting point for a complicated situation like a post-blizzard battle! Our on-site sources will get us the inside word on field conditions…and our computer programmers will run simulations just for those conditions! Then our Wise Guy sources will clue us into what the smart money will be doing Sunday morning. NETWORK clients will get the best Las Vegas betting strategy based on the best information money can buy!

You can always purchase JIM HURLEY’S BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about this weekend’s football or basketball, please call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 before the first games get started.

Obviously this will be the last football preview until the Super Bowl in early February. Here’s what’s coming up in the NOTEBOOK for basketball lovers this week…

Monday: College Basketball Conference Summary…the Big East
Midweek: College Basketball Conference Summary…the SEC
Friday/Saturday: SEC/Big 12 Showdown: Kentucky/Kansas and Oklahoma/LSU
Sunday: NBA TV Preview…Golden State at New York

All you have to worry about with this blizzard is where to keep your COLD, HARD, CASH! When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!

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