- The Arizona Cardinals defense struggles against the run game allowing 4.4 yards per carry
- The 49ers have turned the ball over 16 times in their past five games
Week 16 brings us the Arizona Cardinals hosting the San Francisco 49ers in the 49ers adopted home stadium. A strange quirk of the current situation means the 49ers will be playing four of their final five games in Arizona, although for this one they will be in the road team dressing room.
So far Glendale Stadium has not been a happy hunting ground for the 49ers. They were beaten by both the Buffalo Bills and Washington Football Team in their first two “home” games in Arizona. The 49ers offense has not been good this year, but when their run game has clicked it has been extremely effective. After a barren run leading into their bye, the 49ers have rushed for over 100 yards in three of their past four games.
In Week 16, the 49ers face a Cardinals team that has allowed opponents over 100 rushing yards in four of their past five. Jeff Wilson, with Tevin Coleman and Jerrick McKinnon mixed in, should be able to provide this offense a spark on the ground.
The issue for the 49ers is whether their passing game can provide consistency. On the season, the 49ers have turned the ball over 29 times, with 17 interceptions. If they turn the ball over against Kyler Murray and the Cardinals, it will be very tough for them to win.
The Cardinals run game has also been good recently. In the past month, they have rushed for over 100 yards in three of their four games. However, the 49ers defense is extremely good against the run, and the Cardinals will need to rely on their passing game. After a few recent struggles, that passing game woke up in Week 15, with 423 passing yards.
The most important thing for the Cardinals is that Murray appears to be healthy again. He threw the ball incredibly well in Week 16, averaging 11.28 yards per attempt. He has also carried the ball 21 times in the past two weeks, having managed just 15 in total in the three weeks before. If Murray is back healthy, it gives this offense a huge lift.
At this point in the season, the Cardinals are seemingly the better team. Last week was tough for the defense given the limited knowledge of Jalen Hurts in the Eagles scheme. However, the league knows what the 49ers offense is, and the Cardinals have had time to prepare. With Kyler Murray back healthy, and the 49ers not having anyone who can blanket DeAndre Hopkins, the Cardinals should be able to make big plays.
At 50 points this total seems high, but the Cardinals should be able to move the ball with relative ease, at least through the air. My lean would be towards the under simply because there will be periods where the 49ers run game sustains drives and ticks time off the clock.
However, my play this week is to take the Cardinals giving the four points. The 49ers are out of the playoffs with little to play for and the Cardinals are in the thick of a playoff race. One team is going to be competitive until the very end, while the other could fade late in the game.
NFL Expert Picks
1u – Arizona Cardinals -4 @ -110
NFL Free Picks
It's a festive week and we have plenty of football to get stuck into. There's no Thursday Night Football this week but we have the Vikings travel to New Orleans to face the Saints on Christmas Day. Saturday gives us a triple threat of football to wager on. The Bucs can secure playoffs if they beat the Lions. Elsewhere the Dolphins face the Raiders and the 49ers play the Cardinals.
Sunday sees a number of matches with playoff implications, the Rams @ Seahawks being the most important. We'll also see the Jets and Jaguars play, with fans of the New Yorkers praying that Jacksonville wins and puts them back in the hotseat for Trevor Lawrence. The Titans face the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. Monday's game is a dead rubber in all reality, as the Bills travel to play the Patriots, with New England officially out of playoff contention.
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