Two weeks after they played for the first time this season, the San Fransisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals meet again in another NFC West rivalry game. The Week 11 game gets underway at 4:05 EST on Sunday, November 17 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. Fans throughout the West Coast, Arizona, and several other markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
Based on the Week 11 betting odds, the 49ers are favored by 10 points at home. The game also has an over/under of 45.5 points.
Unlike the last time these teams met in Week 9, the 49ers are no longer undefeated. San Francisco lost a wild and crazy overtime game against the Seahawks on Monday night in a game that featured seven turnovers and two defensive touchdowns. The loss drops them to a mere 8-1 on the season.
Obviously, one loss isn’t the end of the world for the 49ers. On the other hand, the loss to Seattle trims San Francisco’s lead atop the NFC West standings to just half a game. At the moment, the 49ers are walking a thin line between top seed in the NFC and Wild Card team. The last thing they need right now is a second straight loss with the Seahawks breathing down their necks. Plus, San Francisco’s December schedule has plenty of potential stumbling blocks on it, so it’s vital that the 49ers get right back on track, especially at home.
Arizona, on the other hand, is in the midst of a three-game losing streak, including their Week 9 loss to the 49ers. This is the second time this season that the Cardinals have lost three in a row. It hurts even more because it’s come immediately after a three-game winning streak. Arizona also had a great opportunity to get a win in Tampa last week, only to concede a 92-yard touchdown drive in the closing minutes.
At 3-6-1, the Cardinals are three and a half games out of a Wild Card spot. They also have to play four of their final seven games against their NFC West rivals, all teams with a winning record. In other words, it would take a minor miracle for the Cardinals to factor into the play hunt when December rolls around.
On the other hand, the Cardinals gave San Francisco all they could handle two weeks ago. Despite trailing by 14 points at halftime, Arizona came back to make it a 3-point game with less than five minutes left, only to fall a little short. Prior to that game, the Cardinals had won eight in a row against the 49ers, so there should be no shortage of confidence for Arizona as they head to Northern California.
It would certainly be surprising to see the 49ers lose this game. But it wouldn’t be a massive shock after their close game with Arizona two weeks ago. Keep in mind that we’re seeing the 49ers try to bounce back from a loss for the first time this season. I’m going to hedge my bets and take Arizona to lose but beat the spread. The Cardinals are actually 5-1 against the spread in their last six games. Arizona is somewhat comfortable in an underdog role. That makes me comfortable taking the Cardinals and the points in this game.
One reason to be concerned about the 49ers is a wide array of injuries, especially on the offensive side of the ball. Tight end George Kittle, the team’s leading receiver, has been ruled out for Sunday’s game. Emmanuel Sanders, who’s made an instant impact since coming over in a trade, could miss the game as well. Meanwhile, all three of San Francisco’s running backs are listed as questionable. The 49ers were held under 100 yards rushing against Seattle last week, which is concerning for a team that ranks second in the NFL in rushing.
San Francisco’s other issue last week was allowing Jimmy Garoppolo to be under constant pressure. The 49ers also have injury questions on the offensive line, which contributed to Garoppolo being sacked five times last week. The Cardinals only sacked Garoppolo once two weeks ago. But pressuring the quarterback is something Seattle did last week that Arizona could replicate with Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs, who have combined for 17 sacks this season.
On the other side of the ball, you can never completely rule out the Cardinals with Kyler Murray at quarterback. Arizona’s offense has struggled to find consistency this season, but they are capable of scoring quickly. Murray has both the arm strength to push the ball downfield and the athleticism to make plays with his legs. The Cardinals also have both David Johnson and Kenyan Drake in their backfield now. Drake was great in Week 9 and getting Johnson back from injury should help as well.
Ultimately, it’s hard to see the 49ers creating much separation given all of their injuries on offense. Also, Murray can be tough to contain for four quarters. The Arizona offense has had a knack for coming on strong in the second half of games. Between San Francisco’s injuries and the possibility of the Cardinals scoring in garbage time, I don’t feel comfortable laying down 10 points in this game.