#AZvsCAR: Key things to watch

CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) - LINDLEY IN, STANTON OUT: Arians on Thursday declared quarterback Drew Stanton out against the Panthers, meaning Ryan Lindley will get the start. Lindley is 0-2 as Arizona's starter.

Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick in 2012, completed 23 of 39 passes for 316 yards and two TDs in a 20-17 loss to San Francisco last week, but was also threw three interceptions. Arians said he has confidence in Lindley but "he's still got to protect the ball better."

Stanton was 4-2 as Arizona's starter before injuring his knee in Week 15 against St. Louis.

TURNING UP THE HEAT: Carolina defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is turning up the heat. The Panthers have 17 sacks in the last five games, including six against the Falcons last Sunday. The Panthers are getting a better push from their front seven, led by defensive end Charles Johnson. "He's had a tremendous stretch of four games," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said.

LOOSE PANTHERS: Carolina's locker room has been very loose this week with a quiet confidence emitting from the locker room. Rivera said that is because the Panthers are "playing with house money" after repeating as NFC South champions when it appeared they were out of the running after starting the season 3-8-1. "It's not been the season of a prototypical playoff team, but who cares?," Newton said.

FITZGERALD'S TIME: Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald seems to step up when the playoffs arrive. In six postseason games, Fitzgerald has 42 receptions for 705 yards and nine touchdowns. That includes three 100-yard receiving games, including eight catches for 166 yards and a touchdown in Arizona's 33-13 upset win over Carolina in the 2008 divisional playoffs.

KUECHLY FACTOR: Panthers middle linebacker Luke Kuechly leads the league in tackles for the second time in three seasons. Behind Kuechly, the Panthers have gone from 27th in league in overall defense in Week 7 to 10th to finish the season.

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