San Francisco won a last-second thriller over the Green Bay Packers and will now travel to decidedly-warmer Charlotte to face the Panthers. These teams have met in the past, but a Carolina win in Week 10 means little when a healthy 49ers team is visiting.
The Carolina Panthers are in a unique position in the NFL divisional playoff round. They're the only team to be underdogs, despite playing at home. Current lines favor the 49ers by 1.5 points, according to OddsShark -- but there is some variation among outlets with the line shifting between one and two points, all with San Francisco as favorite.
On the surface it's hard to understand why there's so little faith in the Panthers, but this is a team that struggled on offense without wide receiver Steve Smith, and it remains unclear whether he'll be able to play on Sunday. Recent reports indicate a 60-percent chance he'll go, but that can change in a moment. Couple this with the return of Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis, both of whom were out against the Panthers, and it becomes clearer why.
Week 10 saw a defensive slugfest in San Francisco that resulted in a grand total of 19 points in a 10-9 Panthers win. There isn't much belief in this being a similarly focused game, with the over/under currently set at 42 points. That's a fairly large number, and the betting community feels the same way with the majority of money going towards the under.
Emotions are high for both teams with the 49ers looking to move past their Super Bowl loss in 2012, while Carolina is in dire need of a playoff win -- it's first in over five years. The last time Charlotte hosted a playoff game was a Jake Delhomme collapse in 2008, and there's a huge monkey to get off the team's back.