NFL Week 1 Picks: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers Predictions
After coming close twice in 2019, can the Arizona Cardinals upset the San Francisco 49ers on the road?
- The Arizona Cardinals pushed the San Francisco 49ers close in both games last season
- The 49ers defense struggled against QBs that could move around in 2019
This game will be overshadowed by the Drew Brees and Tom Brady clash in New Orleans, but this game could really set the tone for the NFC West. In 2019, the Cardinals lost both games by a combined 13 points. Six of those points came on a fumble recovery on the Cardinals final offensive play of the game in the second matchup, meaning that realistically, the Cardinals lost the two games by a combined seven points.
The 49ers defense was incredible in 2019, but they had their issues when facing QBs who could be considered mobile. In 2019, the “mobile QBs” they faced were Kyler Murray, Russell Wilson, Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes. In those six games, the 49ers allowed an average of 28.3 points per game. In contrast, across the regular season, they allowed an average of just 19.4 points per game. Kliff Kingsbury and Kyler Murray nearly took a game off the NFC Champions in 2019 as rookies, so they can certainly come close again in their second season together.
- The two games between these teams averaged 57.5 points per game last season
- The 49ers averaged 29.9 ppg and the Cardinals averaged 22.6 ppg last season
These two teams were extremely good offensively in 2019, and I expect both to be again in 2020. The Cardinals had some struggles last season, but they scored 25 or more points in 10 games last season. However, defensively they were also the fifth-worst team in the league in terms of points allowed. They have improved that unit in 2020, but it is still a long way from a top half of the league unit.
For their part, the 49ers scored 25 or more points in 12 of their 19 (63%) games last season. If we extend that down to just 24, then they did it in 14 of the 19 (74%). While their defense was one of the stingiest in the entire NFL, we have already discussed their issues when facing mobile QBs. This one has a good chance of being a lot of fun!
If you are feeling brave, then push this one out to over 50 for +116 or over 54.5 at +180. I am sticking at the 48, but this game could get into the 60s or even the 70s.