When the Arizona Cardinals host the Carolina Panthers Sunday, it will be the 12th regular-season meeting between them. Arizona is just 3-8 in the first 11, but it did win its only postseason matchup with Carolina, a 33-13 stomping that kicked off the 2008 Super Bowl run. The Cardinals are coming off a thrilling ending to a lackluster game in Tampa Bay against the Buccaneers. The 13-10 win was nearly a shutout loss if not for some clutch fourth-quarter play from both the offense and defense. The Panthers enjoyed a bye week after handing the lowly New York Giants a 38-0 pounding -- the plus-38 is the widest margin of victory to date this season.
There is a formula of sorts for beating Carolina these days, and though it will be a tough bout -- quarterback Cam Newton is nothing if not unpredictable -- these three keys revolve around that formula. Keep routes in front The Arizona secondary has done a great job keeping receivers from getting behind them this season. That appears to be the strategy of coordinator Todd Bowles, and his unit has responded by putting up some very differing numbers on short and long throws. On throws traveling nine yards or fewer, the Cardinals' defense has the third-worst passer rating allowed, at 109.3 -- that includes six touchdowns to just one interception. However, on passes 10 yards or deeper, the defense has a passer rating allowed of just 50.0 (two TD, three INT), ranked fifth.
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