Playoff predictions: 49ers at Panthers

Playoff predictions: 49ers at Panthers
January 11, 2014, 10:45 am
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Brian Mitchell gets the inside scoop on Jay Gruden

Tandler - Tarik

Although the Redskins are spectators in this year’s NFL playoffs, we know you’ll still be watching. So let’s have some fun predicting the outcomes, shall we? Here’s how Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler see the games unfolding:

49ers at Panthers
Sunday 1:05 FOX
49ers favored by 2

Tandler: The last time these two teams got together it was a throwback to the 1960’s. They went at each other blow for blow, only one touchdown was scored and the Panthers prevailed in San Francisco. Defense usually shows up no matter where you play so don’t expect to tune in and see another edition of Colts-Chiefs break out. The key difference here is that Colin Kaepernick if playing much better now. He had a 42 passer rating that game but he’s been at 108 or better in five of the seven games since. And the Niners line is not going to let him get sacked six times again. Look for another tough battle with the visiting team winning again. 49ers 17, Panthers 14

[RELATED: Former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan interviews in Miami.]

El-Bashir: I sometimes pick against Rich, well, just because. This is not one of those times. The 49ers are coming all the way across the country for an early game, and they’ll be facing a team that’s been resting and preparing for two weeks. It’s little concerning that this is Cam Newton’s playoff debut. And, indeed, Kaepernick is playing well and he’s got weapons to spare. But I think Luke Kuechly and the Carolina defense will win the day. The Panthers’ defense has limited the five of their last eight opponents to 16 or fewer points, including a 10-9 win over the 49ers on Nov. 10. In that game, the Panthers’ NFL best pass rush (60 sacks) sacked Kapernick a career-high six times and held him to 91 yards passing and 16 rushing. While I don’t expect the numbers to be that extreme this time around, I do believe Carolina will contain Kap once again. Panthers 20, 49ers 17.