Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers Preview and Pick

Arizona Cardinals (5-11 last season) +3, o/u 46 at San Francisco 49ers (7-9), 10:15 pm Eastern Monday, ESPN
by Zman of

A couple of supposedly up-and-coming teams out of the NFC West kick off their seasons Monday night when the Arizona Cardinals visit the San Francisco 49ers on ESPN.

Arizona stumbled through a 5-11 season last year, and then dumped head coach Dennis Green, replacing him with former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

On the other side, San Francisco went 7-9 last year in their second season under dapper head coach Mike Nolan. The 49ers are now 11-21 straight up under Nolan, but 17-15 against the spread.

Arizona swept the two meetings with their divisional rivals last year, winning 34-27 in Phoenix in week 1 and 26-20 in San Francisco in December. The Cardinals also swept the 49ers in 2005. Both of last year’s games went over their totals of 43 and 45, and Arizona, despite its woeful running game of the recent past, outrushed San Fran in three of those last four meetings.

The Cardinals went just 2-6 straight up but 4-4 against the spread last season on the road.

The Niners went 4-4 straight up and 5-3 ATS at home last year.

Arizona ranked 18th in total offense last season (313 ypg), 30th in rushing (84 ypg), 29th in total defense (349 ypg) and 16th vs. the run (119 ypg).

San Francisco ranked 26th in total offense last year (304 ypg), sixth in rushing (136 ypg), 26th in total defense (344 ypg) and 19th vs. the run (121 ypg).

Also, the Cardinals ranked 16th in average time-of-possession last year (29:59) and posted a +3 turnover ratio, while the 49ers ranked 26th in t-o-p (28:37) and owned a -5 TO ratio.

And while San Francisco allowed more points 26 per game than any other team in the league last year, Arizona gave up an average of 24 ppg.

The Cardinals were lined as underdogs 12 times last season. They went 3-9 straight up in those games, but 7-5 against the spread.

The Niners were favored just three times last year, and went 1-2 both straight up and vs. the numbers in those games.

Arizona second-year QB Matt Leinart completed 57% of his passes last year and racked up an 11/12 TD/INT ratio.

San Francisco’s third-year QB Alex Smith hit on 58% of his throws last season and compiled a 16/16 TD/INT ratio.

Niners RB Frank Gore, who led the NFC in rushing last year, missed the entire pre-season with a broken hand. But he is expected to be ready to go Monday night.

The o/u went 11-5 in Cardinals games last year, 9-7 in San Francisco games.

The 49ers opened up as three-point home favorites for Monday night’s game, with a total of 45. The spread has remained steady at most sportsbooks, but the total has been bet up a point. And the Niners are listed at -175 on the moneyline, with Arizona getting +155 as a road dog.

The Predictem Pick: Take Arizona plus the three.