Panthers should grind out victory

Updated: January 9, 2004, 1:31 PM ET
By Football Scouts, Inc. | For ESPN Insider
Editor's note: Football Scouts, Inc., took an early look at the NFL playoff match-ups Tuesday. Here's their updated scouting report:
  • Take 2: Panthers must force Rams out of cover-2

    Once thought to be a smashmouth squad that relies on defense and a power running game out of necessity, the Panthers looked like a complete team in their win over the Cowboys last week.

    Meantime, the Rams fumbled away home-field advantage in Week 17 with a puzzling loss to the Lions. Carolina still prefers to pound the ball with RB Stephen Davis, but when the defense keys on the run, the Panthers can use their improving passing game to exploit man-to-man match-ups.

    The Rams are a bit of a mystery: From week to week, no one except coach Mike Martz knows whether they will lean on their running game or put the offense in the hands of QB Marc Bulger.