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In week-three of the NFL, the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) visit the Arizona Cardinals (2-0) to play a late afternoon game. The 49ers lost last week to the Bears 28-20 after beating the Cowboys in week one 28-17. In week one, the Cardinals, who were at home, squeaked by the Chargers 18-17. Last week they travelled to the East to play the New York Giants. The Cards won 25-14. In this weekâ€™s game, Frisco is favored by 3 points. It does look to be a close one.
San Francisco is a team with a whole lot of potential and some major questions. One question is at quarterback where people must be wondering if Colin Kaepernick is the right man for the job.
San Francisco utilizes a strong running attack. RB Frank Gore (29 ATT 129 YDS 4.4 AVG) anchors the rushing game. Quarterback Kaepernick, now in his fourth season, is second in rushes, averaging 4.5 yards per carry for a total of 75 yards. Kaepernick has had trouble with his passing game, tossing 3 TDs and 3 INTs. Heâ€™s been sacked five times. Wideout Anquan Boldin leads the team with 10 catches, 133 total yards, and a 13.3 average.
On defense, the 49ers are seventh versus the run and 14th against the pass. Defensive end Justin Smith has three of the clubâ€™s four sacks, while linebacker Patrick Willis leads the team in tackles with a total of 14. Willis also made one of the teamâ€™s three interceptions. San Francisco also has one forced fumble for a TD and one blocked kick.
If the 49ers can create havoc with their defense and use their ground game effectively, they can certainly beat the Cardinals.
The Cardinals look like a fairly average team on offense and better than average on D, especially versus the run. Arizona has a complicating situation in this game, as starting QB Carson Palmer will not play due to a shoulder injury.
Filling in for Palmer will be Drew Stanton. Stanton came in when Palmer got injured last week and completed 48.3% of his passes. In that game, he was sacked four times. Receiver Michael Floyd (6 REC, 138 YDS, 23.0 AVG) is the teamâ€™s primary go-to guy in the air, while Andre Ellington (24 ATT, 144 YDS, 5.1 AVG) anchors the running attack. Look for the Cardinals to run more than pass in this game and for Stanton to try to exploit any holes he may find in San Franciscoâ€™s pass coverage.
Linebacker Larry Foote, who leads the team with 16 tackles total, is the main man on defense. He also has one interception. There are four players on D who are in double digits in the total tackle stats. LB Kenny Demens has two forced fumbles, both of which have been recovered by the Cardinals.
If the game comes down to a field goal, Arizona kicker Chandler Catanzaro has the edge, as heâ€™s gone six for six. For the 49ers, Phil Dawson is two of three.
Both teams post strong defenses against the rush. The team that wins will be able to run successfully, and will also find key moments to connect on passes. Even though the cards can create turnovers, the fact is the 49ers have an edge in this area; especially due to the fact that Arizonaâ€™s starting QB, Palmer, is out. That 3-point edge for San Francisco is fairly accurate.