2013 NFL Playoffs: San Francisco 49ers at Carolina Panthers Game Preview

Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

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SB Nation 2014 NFL Playoff Coverage

San Francisco 49ers
Sat., January 12, 2014 - 11:05 AM MT
Carolina Panthers

AVG. YDS (RNK)

TEAM CATEGORY

AVG. YDS (RNK)

186.2 (30th) Pass Off. 190.2 (29th)
137.6 (3rd) Rush Off. 126.6 (11th)
221.0 (7th) Pass Def. 214.3 (6th)
95.9 (4th) Rush Def. 86.9 (2nd)
13-4 Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte, North Carolina 12-4
5th Seed Spread: 49ers -1 2nd Seed

Well, with the Seattle Seahawks advancing to the NFC Championship Game there will be a representative from this conference that finished near the bottom of the league in total passing offense. Somehow, that will make whichever one of these three teams the favorite in the Super Bowl, even though its widely considered to be a passing league today.

I kind of like the Carolina Panthers in this game even if I don't think they will win as they are one of the few teams that has proven they can play the kind of football the Seahawks and San Francisco 49ers play. Not only that, but they can beat either one of these teams while doing it. Cam Newton has really showed the nation that he has matured into a leader and that is exactly what was needed in order for this franchise to return to any sort of winning ways.

Add that to a guy feeling that Colin Kaepernick is anything but mature and is relying mostly on Frank Gore and the defense to carry his success through the playoffs. At some point, I think that lack of maturity catches up to the 49ers organization. If it isn't today, then most certainly it will next weekend.

The biggest key for the Panthers today is for Cam Newton to make some big third down conversions to keep drives alive and to not turn the ball over. I expect a low scoring affair, which means converting in the red zone is also a must. The irony about all that is it happens to be the same exactly key to victory for the 49ers. Just replace Cam Newton's name with Colin Kaepernick's.

If I had to choose a winner, I'd have to go with the team that has far more playoff experience. History has shown experience usually pays huge dividends in the playoffs.

49ers 16, Panthers 13

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