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Cardinals vs. Panthers Wild Card playoff predictions

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A panel of our staff makes their picks for the Cards' postseason opener.

Paul Abell-USA TODAY Sports

Game day is here. Now it is time for us to make our predictions for the game between the Arizona Cardinals and the Carolina Panthers. Some of our writing staff have their thoughts. What do they think will be the result of the game and why?

Jesse Reynolds:

Being the optimist I have been these last few weeks (I haven't been), it's weird that I'm feeling optimistic now. Defense has looked very bad and Lindley has played just a half of good football, against backups and a bad pass rush. But looking at Carolina's schedule and just wanting to trust the coaching staff. I say the Cards win 12-7 on a hard-fought game where the defense steps again but gives up the big play. Lindley plays improved but under a strong pass rush isn't able to get is a TD, just field goals, which is just enough to work out a win.

BigRedBilly:

The Big Red defense suddenly remembers how to play tackle football this weekend. And perhaps inspired by the first Cardinals' playoff game in Carolina, forces multiple takeaways too -- exactly what we need. Just enough help from Ryan Lindley and the offense puts Arizona over the top in a game that is much closer this time around. Final score: Cardinals 20 - Panthers 17.

Seth Cox: What can we say?

Lindley got off the schneid for his first career touchdowns, so let's see if he can get his first career playoff victory on Saturday.

Unfortunately for the Cards and Lindley, he may be the least important player in terms of impact if the defense does not figure out how to stop mobile quarterbacks.

I think we see a return to form this week and Bowles and the defense figure out how to contain Cam Newton, while Lindley and the offense sputter along to a victory... Cards 9-6 over Carolina.

Jess Root:

I seem to be overly optimistic, but I did correctly pick 15 of the Cardinals'  16 games this season in my preseason picks. Arizona has played poorly. But they will play inspired football in Charlotte. This team had a swagger about them for much of the season. There was adversity, but they made the postseason. Expect the swagger to be back.

Defensively, Carolina's spread attack  of running the ball will play to Arizona's strengths, as opposed to the struggles they have had stopping the run out of power sets.

Offensively, I can't expect much. Ryan Lindley will be facing one of the best fronts in football. Lindley struggles when he can't get his feet set.

But a big play from Lindley and a defensive score will get Arizona to the 20-point mark for the first time since Carson Palmer got hurt. Arizona wins 20-13.