San Francisco 49ers(11-4 SU, 10-5 ATS) vs. Arizona Cardinals (10-5 SU, 11-4 ATS)
NFL Week 17
Date and Time: Sunday, December 29, 4:25pm
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Phoenix, AZ
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF -1.5/ARI +1.5
Over/Under Total: 42.5
Happy Holidays everyone. I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and/or
whatever holiday you happen to celebrate. Now, on to NFL week 17. It has
been a great season with many surprises, as well as things we knew we would
see. This Sunday we will see a matchup of two teams that fit in each of
these categories. The defending NFC champion San Francisco 49ers
will travel east to take on the surprise 10-5, Arizona Cardinals. This is
a big game, and other than the Dallas/Philly game, is probably the most
important for the NFC postseason landscape. San Fran has already clinched
a playoff spot, but can still improve their seeding with a win, while Arizona
needs a win, and a little help to earn a berth into the playoffs. The Niners
come in as a 1.5 point favorite, and I could seriously see this game going
either way. Both teams will be at full strength for the most part, and both
teams are playing for something…that’s all you can ask for in a week 17
San Francisco has already clinched a playoff spot with their hard fought win over the Atlanta Falcons on Monday night. All season long the 49ers defense has been the life line of this team, and that proved true late in the 4th quarter in that win over Atlanta. Coming into this season, many looked at San Francisco as the favorite to get to the Super Bowl from the NFC, but as this season has gone on, there are a few other teams that may appear to be ready to knock off the champs. Don’t get me wrong, the 49ers are having a great year, and just like the Carolina Panthers, their defense has set the tone. One thing we all know is that defense travels. What does that mean? It means no matter where you play, at home, on the road, or in a neutral site, the defense isn’t normally shook or taken out of their element like the offenses are when on the road. Yes, you need a good offense to compete in the NFL, but like always, defense wins championships. San Fran is a true threat to win the NFC, and I see it coming down to them and the Panthers to get through the NFC gauntlet. Now onto this game. The 49ers need a win. They want to get a home playoff game, and to get that, this game is a must. How will the Niners go on the road to get this win against a good Arizona defense? PASSING! The 49ers ranks 32nd, yes, DEAD LAST, in the NFL in passing. In order to make a true run, this has to improve. The run game has done well, but now, in week 17, and through the post season, San Francisco will need to be able to gain some respect throwing the ball downfield in order to advance and reach their goal of a Lombardi Trophy.
Arizona has been one of the pleasant surprises of the NFL this season. Of course we all knew they would improve from last year, I don’t think many people saw them making a push for a playoff spot, simply because of how strong their division, the NFC West is. With Seattle and San Fran leading the way, most wouldn’t expect the Cardinals to still be alive in the final week of the season. Yes, they are on a little life support, but they could still find themselves in the playoffs. With a win over the 49ers, and a Tampa Bay upset of the Saints, Arizona will get that final wild card berth. Arizona is going to have to play some good defense to win this game. Not because the SF offense is scary good, but because the Niners defense will keep this game low scoring. Arizona must return the favor and keep this game in the teens or low 20’s to have a legit shot to win.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Ok, so here we go. On paper, and just pure logic would tell us to take the defending NFC champs minus the small spread, but do not get too caught up in the eye test here. Arizona has only lost one game at home all year, and not only that, they rank number one against the run. Don’t forget, that the run is most of San Fran’s offense. With Frank Gore carrying the running-back’s load, and Kaepernick leading the read option attack, and strong run defense plays right into the favor of the Cardinals. Yes, SF is playing for something, a better playoff seeding, but the pressure isn’t really there. They are “in the tournament” and that is all that matters. Arizona is in a must win situation and therefore, I like them to come out with a little more urgency. The real beauty for Arizona is that their game and the New Orleans game have the same kickoff time. No time for scoreboard watching. Go out there, get your win, and hope the rest works out for you. I like the Cardinals to win this game in one of the biggest trap lines that you will ever see. PICK ARIZONA +1.5 and I’ll see you at the cashier’s cage. I’ll be the guy with the wheelbarrow!