It isn't common a road team in the postseason is favored by any amount. The San Francisco 49ers are three-point favorites over the NFC South division champion and second-seeded Panthers, giving off the impression they are the lesser team.
While that line could be more propagated by the fact the 49ers have won three of their last four NFC playoff games, including last year's championship over the top-seeded Falcons in Atlanta, these teams appear even on paper. Both have quarterbacks known more for their athletic ability and playmaking tendencies on the edge. Both have fierce defenses anchored by a strong group of linebackers.
In fair weather, the common thought is to look at the home teams, and look at the quarterbacks.
San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick was brutal in Carolina's 10-9 win earlier this season, but the 49ers have won eight in a row. Carolina's Cam Newton is making his first playoff appearance, rebounding well after a difficult 2012 season.
This really could go in either direction, but the key will be the quarterbacks - specifically, which one will protect the ball better in a nasty defensive battle that could come down to the final play.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Carolina Panthers
Where: Bank of America Stadium, Charlotte
When: 1:05 p.m. ET
Broadcasters: Joe Buck (play-by-play), Troy Aikman (color)
Odds: 49ers -3
Weather: 58 degrees, sunny, winds WSW 9 m.p.h.
Online stream: None available
Panthers SB Nation site: Cat Scratch Reader
49ers SB Nation site: Niners Nation
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