By Danny Cox
The San Francisco 49ers are preparing to face off with the Carolina Panthers for the second time this season, but there is a lot more on the line this time. It isn’t just a regular season game and the Niners aren’t worried about avenging their loss from earlier this season. All they want is to get to the NFC Championship Game.READ MORE: Fourth Stimulus Check: Will You See Another Relief Payment Soon?
In week 10 of the 2013 NFL regular season, the San Francisco 49ers lost at home to the Carolina Panthers by a score of 10-9. That was not a very decisive victory for the Panthers, but that made it a bit harder for the Niners to stomach as getting blown out is one thing, but losing by one point raises the hardest question to answer, “What if?”
The next week, the 49ers traveled to New Orleans and lost to the Saints by a score of 23-20. It was a rather controversial game that saw a couple of questionable calls near the end, but again, it happened.
Well, since then, the 49ers haven’t lost a single game as they’ve rolled off seven in a row. That win streak includes the last-second victory over the Green Bay Packers in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. Now, they are traveling to Bank of America Stadium to face off with the Panthers and all they want to do is keep on winning.
The winner of this week’s game will go on to face the Seattle Seahawks or the New Orleans Saints in the NFC Championship Game.
One might think that the Panthers have the edge since they won the match-up from earlier this season, but that isn’t the case at all. As a matter of fact, this is a much different 49ers team, and they are an early one-point favorite, which makes the Panthers home underdogs.
There is going to be a huge difference for this game, and it is a weapon that the 49ers did not have when they played the Panthers earlier this year. That weapon is wide receiver Michael Crabtree.READ MORE: 'The Sweetest Thing': 10-Year-Old Phillies Fan Goes Viral For Giving Foul Ball To Crying Girl
The same Michael Crabtree that caught eight passes for 125 yards in the playoff victory over the Packers.
Throughout much of the season, 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick did not have another legitimate wide receiver target besides Anquan Boldin. Tight end Vernon Davis can always cause havoc in the middle of the field, but with Boldin being the only big-time receiver; defenders had an easy time in coverage.
Now, the Panthers will have to keep up their very strong rushing defense so as to stop Frank Gore from opening it up on the ground, but they can’t forget about the running ability of Kaepernick either. Against the Packers, the duo combined for 164 yards.
A number of times, Kaepernick’s scrambling ability kept crucial drives alive so that the 49ers could come from behind in the second half and win.
The Panthers have all the talent in the world to beat the 49ers again, but they’ve got to make sure that they aren’t overconfident in their ability to win. This 49ers team is much better than the one that Carolina played in midseason, and home-field advantage may not be enough for that added edge.
For more news and updates about the NFL Playoffs, visit NFL Playoffs Central.
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.MORE NEWS: 'Beyond Reckless': Atlanta Attorneys Plan To Sue Arrive Perimeter Apts. After Explosion
Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. Danny is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on Examiner.com.