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‘Monday Night Football’ preview, predictions, and open thread: 49ers at Cardinals

Los Angeles Chargers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The Arizona Cardinals and San Francisco 49ers head to Mexico City to face each other on Monday Night Football this week. Despite coming off of a 27-17 win over the division rival Los Angeles Rams, the Cardinals are a team that is sputtering. They have lost 3 of their last 5 games with their only wins coming against teams quarterbacked by Andy Dalton and John Wolford. The 49ers have also lost 3 of their last 5 games, however they have looked like a very different team over their last two games, both of which were wins, thanks in large part to the addition of Christian McCaffrey. The line on DraftKings Sportsbook opened with Arizona as a 5.5-point underdog a little over a week ago, but currently the 49ers sit as an 8-point favorite with the over/under at 43.5, which is down 1.5 points from its opening number.

General notes

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona offense is one that does not have a true identity at the moment. Last Sunday’s game saw them throw the ball 37 times for 238, resulting in 6.4 yards per attempt, whilst they ran the ball 26 times for 78. All of those numbers aren’t great and epitomize the Cardinals offense all season. Through 10 games their expected points contributed through the passing game is 15.07 which ranks 22nd. They are 7th in terms of expected points contributed through the running game with 22.08, although that is largely due to Kyler Murray who is the team’s leading rusher.

On the defensive side of the ball the Cardinals have been relatively average. Their net yards allowed per pass attempt of 6.5 is tied for 22nd whilst their pressure percentage of 24.4% is tied for 7th. Against the run the Cards are tied for 9th in rushing yards per attempt and their rushing defense has contributed an expected points added of -4.38 which is 15th.

San Francisco 49ers

The San Fran offense is one of the better units in the league. Their passing game is not eye popping or impressive to watch but it gets the job done. Jimmy Garoppolo is fifth in adjusted yards per attempt and fourth in net yards per pass attempt. Surprisingly their ground game is tied with the Arizona Cardinals at 4.4 yards per attempt, which is tied for 18th in the league. Although, as Elijah Mitchell gets closer to 100% and Christian McCaffrey gets more and more integrated with the offense, that is a number that should rise over time.

On the defensive side of the ball the 9ers are amongst the league’s best. They are allowing the fewest rushing yards per attempt at 3.4 and are tied for the 7th least net passing yards allowed per attempt at 5.6.

Injury notes

Arizona is one of the most banged up teams in the league. Stars including Budda Baker, DeAndre Hopkins, Kyler Murray and Byron Murphy have registered little to no practice time this week with all of their statuses currently up in the air.

The 49ers on the other hand are one of the healthier teams in the league this week as the key players who will likely be questionable are Arik Armstead and Samson Ebukam.

Prediction - 49ers -8 - Under 43.5

Whether or not the injured Cardinals stars are able to play this week I think the 49ers win this game comfortably. Their defense should be able to suffocate Arizona’s offense whilst their rushing attack should truly start to get going this week. I don’t think Arizona is going to score enough nor is San Fran going to play with enough of a tempo to have this game go over 43.5 points.

Of course, a San Francisco loss means the Seattle Seahawks stay in 1st place in the NFC West when they return from their bye.

(All advanced stats cited provided by Pro Football Reference)

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