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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — It doesn’t surprise safety Mike Mitchell that the Panthers are only the third home underdog in the NFL divisional playoffs in the past 20 years.
‘‘We haven’t gotten much respect all year,’’ he said. ‘‘It looks like we still have people to prove wrong.’’
The Panthers (12-4) are playing the no-respect card after opening the week as a 1-point underdog against San Francisco (13-4), despite defeating the 49ers, 10-9, at Candlestick Park Nov. 10.
Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith said the 49ers are likely favored because of their playoff experience.
This is the third straight season San Francisco has been to the playoffs under coach Jim Harbaugh, and most of the players have returned from last year’s NFC championship team. The Panthers will make their first playoff appearance since 2008 under third-year coach Ron Rivera.
That doesn’t seem to bother Rivera.