NFL Week 4: San Francisco 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals Preview and Prediction

Two struggling teams will be looking to find some positives and grab a win, in this bleak NFC West matchup

The Arizona Cardinals were defeated on Monday night against a superior Dallas Cowboys team. Despite a big performance from Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald, the Arizona offense just couldn’t get enough going. QB Carson Palmer frequently found himself on his back—getting sacked 6 times—and the Arizona defense failed to contain Dallas QB Dak Prescott in the 2nd half. Prescott made some big time throws, including 2 TDs in the second half, which was enough to seal the Cardinals fate. The Cardinals must look to move forward on short rest as they open up their NFC West slate against the 49ers.

San Francisco suffered yet another loss, falling just short in a gutsy comeback attempt against the LA Rams on Thursday night. After throwing an INT on their first offensive play, and looking all but done midway through the 4th, the 49ers rallied themselves back into the game with a chance to win late in the 4th. Unfortunately, their efforts weren’t enough, as Rams DT Aaron Donald came up with a crucial sack on San Francisco’s last drive, which sealed the LA victory. The 49ers defense struggled all night, giving up 292 yards and 3 TDs to QB Jared Goff and allowing RB Todd Gurley to add another 2 TDs on the ground. The 49ers seek their first win of the year as they travel to Arizona on Sunday for a division matchup.

Protecting Palmer

The Arizona offensive line has become a huge issue for the Cardinals. They have allowed 11 sacks through the first three games, giving up six of them last week against the Cowboys. OT Jared Veldheer had his hands full with Cowboys DE Demarcus Lawrence last Monday, and after being called out by his GM, his play must improve. Losing RB David Johnson has clearly stunned this offense, and if the offensive line doesn’t pick up their play, it could be a long year for this team.

3rd down defense

Both of these teams have struggled to get their opponents offenses off of the field on 3rd down this year. Arizona ranks 24th in the NFL in opponent 3rd Down conversion percentage, while San Francisco ranks a dreadful 28th in the same category. Both teams are allowing their opponents to convert over 41% of their 3rd down plays through the first three weeks. Whichever team ends with better conversion percentage in this game, could easily find themselves as the winner.

Bruce Arians

Is it time to place Arizona HC Bruce Arians on the hot seat? Okay, probably not, considering they are only two years removed from their NFC Championship appearance, but the NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” league. Arians has struggled throughout his tenure with game management, which was on full display last week—highlighted by an awful challenge in the 4th quarter against Dallas. Coming off a disappointing 2016 season, if Arizona accrues a few more losses in the upcoming weeks I wouldn’t be shocked if his seat start to get warm.

Matchup to Watch: San Francisco DBs vs Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald

Arizona WR Larry Fitzgerald seems to be defying father time. He continues to play at a high level, and remains as QB Carson Palmer’s primary target. In his career, he has absolutely owned the 49ers, racking up 2,901 yards and 16 TDs since 2004. If San Francisco wants any chance at winning this game they must focus on stopping Fitzgerald, and after seeing what they are working with at the CB position, this doesn’t seem likely.

Fantasy Football Tip: San Francisco WR Marquise Goodwin

Coming off of his best performance as a 49er, WR Marquise Goodwin will look to build on this against Arizona. On Thursday, Goodwin caught five balls for 62 yards against the Rams, and really flashed on some of his plays. We know the speed/big play potential that Goodwin possess, and after seeing Dallas WR Brice Butler get behind the Arizona secondary a few times on Monday night, I believe that Goodwin could do the same. Consider him a WR sleeper this week in all formats.

Betting Tip: San Francisco (+6.5)

Both teams are struggling, which always makes for a tough bet on the spread. Whenever this is the case, I tend to side with the team that is getting points. Arizona is having major offensive issues ever since the loss of RB David Johnson, and even though I think they will win, they won’t dominate enough to cover the spread. I like San Francisco getting the points here.

Prediction: Arizona Cardinals 24-20 San Francisco 49ers

In a must win matchup for both teams, don’t expect to see good football. Arizona is having all sorts of problems protecting QB Carson Palmer, while the 49ers just simply lack enough talent to compete week in and week out. As bad as the offensive line has been, Arizona will catch a bit of a break this week, as the San Francisco defense only has accounted for three sacks on the entire season. They should be able to protect Palmer against this front, allowing him to find his playmakers and put up enough points to maintain a lead. San Francisco will be able to move the ball themselves, as Arizona’s talent-filled defense is giving up an average of 25.3ppg through three weeks. San Francisco will battle and keep it close, but Arizona will ultimately have a play or two that puts them ahead for good. The Cardinals win this one, 24-20.

  1. Who will win this matchup? VOTE BELOW!

    1. San Francisco 49ers
    2. Arizona Cardinals
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