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NFL playoffs: Underdog Panthers look to upend 49ers again
NFL » Carolina not worried about lack of playoff experience.


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"Crabtree makes a huge difference," Davis said.

Davis caught a 28-yard touchdown pass against the Packers, giving him six postseason TDs, tied for second most by a tight end in NFL postseason history.

At a glance

NFC divisional

San Francisco at Carolina, Sunday, 11:05 a.m., TV » Ch. 13

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Harbaugh said their return makes the 49ers "more dangerous."

SMITH’S LEFT KNEE: Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said he will play despite a sprained left knee. Smith returned to practice this week, but isn’t sure what to expect when he steps on the field Sunday.

"It’s not about can I go, it’s about how confident do I feel when I am going? I will play Sunday," Smith said. "But it’s how much of that I don’t worry about the knee. That’s when the confidence increases."

NEWTON’S FIRST: Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has thrived in the national spotlight in college and on big stages like Monday night this season. But this will be the third-year quarterback’s first foray into the NFL postseason, so it will be interesting to see how he responds to the pressure.

"It’s simply about seizing the moment," Newton said.

PROTECTING KAEPERNICK: Carolina led the NFL with 60 sacks this season, including a franchise-record nine their last time out against Atlanta in Week 17. Hardy, who goes by "The Kraken," has been a beast of late with eight sacks in the past three games.

LINEBACKER MATCHUP: Sunday’s game features two of the game’s best middle linebackers in Carolina’s Luke Kuechly and San Francisco’s Patrick Willis, both selected to the Pro Bowl. Kuechly has more tackles than anyone in the NFL since coming into the league as a first-round pick in 2012.




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