Arizona Cardinals (8-2 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (3-7 SU, 4-6 ATS)
NFL Week 12
Date/Time: Sunday, November 29, 2015 at 4:05PM EST
Where: Levis Stadium, Santa Clara, California
by Scott, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: ARI -10.5/SF +10.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
The Arizona Cardinals come to Levis Stadium to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. The Cardinals are looking good at 8-2, in firm control of the NFC West. On Sunday night, they scored a big 34-31 win over the 8-1 Cincinnati Bengals. It was their 4th win a row. San Francisco is at 3-7 in what is really a transitional season for the Niners. They lost on the road to the Seahawks on Sunday, 29-13. Prior to that, they had shown some life with 2 wins in 4 games.
As division rivals, these teams already met this season. In week 3 at home, the Cardinals wiped the Niners off the face of the earth with a 47-7 win. Carson Palmer was over 300 yards, with Chris Johnson running for over 100 yards. Arizona put the game away early, taking a 31-7 lead in the second quarter. And its not like San Francisco has gotten much better since this game. It makes you wonder how they will do this week, even at home.
Its been a pretty rough season for the Niners, any way you want to slice it. Colin Kaepernick is now on IR after being benched in favor of Blaine Gabbert. He is 1-1 as a starter and could give the Niners a little bit of extra energy with Kaepernick in what appeared to be in a deep funk. Gabbert was 22-for-34 for 264 yards and a touchdown with no picks in a tough road spot at Seattle this past week and hasnt been all that bad in 2 starts this season.
Carlos Hyde is questionable this week after missing the last three games to a foot injury. No one was able to distinguish himself in his absence. Gabbert will continue to try working with ball-catchers Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin (questionable). But theres only so much you can say to sugar-coat what is the last-ranked offense in the NFL. They are averaging a ridiculously-low 13.9 points per game. Four times this season, theyve scored 7 or fewer points. In their last 4 games, theyve scored a total of 39 points.
They still have some of the defensive playmaking ability from their past, but not a ton. They are ranked 27th against the run and the pass. Its not all their fault, as there arent a ton of defenses that could thrive in these conditions, with the offense not really helping out a lot. Its the 28th-ranked defense in the league. In their last 5 games, theyve given up a total of 112 points, which isnt exactly that bad with an offense leaving them on the field for extended stretches.
At the same time, for as bad as things look for the Niners, they can still jump up and get you from time to time. In beating Minnesota, Baltimore, and Atlanta, they showed pretty good form. In between those sporadic triumphs are games where they have often times looked abysmal. Its not as safe as some would think to bet against the Niners, as they have covered 4 of 10 spreads.
The Cardinals are looking really good right now. They have the top-rated offense in the league and are averaging 33.6 points a gamealso tops in the league. And they do it offensively with balance. Carson Palmer is staying healthy and having a tremendous season with 27 TD passes through ten games. He is making nice connections with resurgent Larry Fitzgerald, who could top 1000 yards in this game. John Brown and Michael Floyd help make this receiving crew a very dangerous one. And in addition to those guys, there are talented playmakers like David Johnson, Darren Fells, and Andre Ellington. Really making it come together is the performance this season from veteran Chris Johnson, who most people had written off. He is third in the league in rushing at nearly 800 yards. In Palmers last 25 starts with the Cardinals, he is a sterling 21-4.
Not a lot of people are focused on the Cardinals right now for whatever reason. And granted, even though theyve shown signs of breaking through in the past seasons, they havent done much to warrant fear. But it seems to be coming together well for the Cardinals right now and if they can stay healthy, they should be able to contend.
Giving this Arizona team even more credibility is a defense that is among the best in the conference. Arizona is the third-ranked defense in the league, in the top 8 against both the run and pass. Its a group that is pretty adept at securing turnovers, having intercepted 14 passes, while securing five fumble recoveries. Theyve given up a robust 63 combined points in their last two games, but they normally give the offense room to breathe. Against teams like the Bengals, giving up points is a part of doing business.
On one hand, the point spread here is pretty big. Arizona is certainly a good team and they blew out San Fran in their first game, but Arizona as a double-digit road favorite is not ideally the best casting for them. Then again, they have the leagues top-scoring offense and San Fran is in tatters right now. But the Niners have a lot of guys in key spots who are playing for their professional futures and one should expect some prideful performances from them heading down the stretch. Im taking San Fran and the points.
Scott’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Im betting on the San Francisco 49ers plus 10.5 points.
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