After eight weeks of action, few people thought that the Arizona Cardinals would be neck-in-neck with the San Francisco 49ers in the race for the NFC West lead. That’s exactly the case as the winner of Monday night’s matchup will take first place.
The Cardinals have lost three straight and lost momentum. They’ll be in tough against a tough 49ers team that’s had ample time to prepare for this contest after playing last Thursday night.
San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
NFL Betting Odds: 49ers -7
How The 49ers Can Win
The 49ers got back to what they do best in a 13-6 win over Seattle, and that is, they play physical and hard-hitting football. They were beaten at their own game in a showdown against the New York Giants and they came out last Thursday night like a team that was embarrassed, especially on defense. The Niners are not a fancy team; they will just go straight at you on both sides of the ball for 60 minutes and when they do that, they’re a Super Bowl contender and obviously the best team in the NFC West. They can really flex with a win on Monday Night Football over the Cardinals.
How The Cardinals Can Win
Arizona’s defense has been doing their best to keep their team in the game, but the offense is simply brutal. Kevin Kolb is hurt again, which means it is John Skelton time and try as he might, he simply isn’t an NFL starting quarterback; he’s barely a backup. The Cardinals need their defense to hold out as long as possible and if he could get some help from the running game, that would be great because the 49ers are 10th against the run, and first against the pass. What does that mean for an offense that ranks 27th in both passing and rushing yards? It means that Monday Night Football could be a nightmare for the Cardinals unless they get a monster effort out of their offense.
Outlook And Pick
San Francisco is favored by a touchdown on the road, which would seem outlandish until you looked at the two teams. The 49ers have won three of their last five in Arizona and have covered four times in that time, and they’ve won four of their last five against the Cardinals overall. There really isn’t anything that would suggest that the Cardinals can avoid a blowout, and that is one of the worst things to happen to a team on Monday Night Football, when you are the only team left and you’re in the spotlight.
Unless Skelton turns into the next coming of Aaron Rodgers and one of Arizona’s running backs come up big, the 49ers should cover this easily. They’ll be well-rested after playing on the Thursday of Week 7, which will make things even worse for the Cards, who will need their defense to put up their best performance of the season, along with a number of other things to go right. The Cardinals could even keep it close for a half, but the 49ers wear you down eventually and they’ll cover the 7-point spread on Monday night.
NFL Pick: 49ers