Certainly one of the most disappointing teams in the NFL this season is defending NFC West champion Arizona as the Cardinals are 1-3 and last in the division. They are likely to be without Pro Bowl quarterback Carson Palmer on Thursday night when visiting the San Francisco 49ers, who are also in the NFC West cellar. Because Palmer is in doubt, the Cardinals are only slight favourites on Sports Interaction NFL odds.
Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Point spread: Cardinals -3.5
Date: Thursday, Oct. 6, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.
San Francisco 49ers
San Francisco, on the other hand, was projected to finish last in the division again and thus is playing to form on a three-game losing streak. The team’s scoring has decreased in each game and the 49ers managed 17 points in Sunday’s seven-point home loss to Dallas. San Francisco was up 14-0 late in the second quarter but did nearly nothing offensively in the second half.
Coach Chip Kelly has to be thinking about making a quarterback change soon as starter Blaine Gabbert has not been good. He threw for 196 yards in the loss to the Cowboys and has topped 200 yards once this year. Gabbert has the fewest passing yards of any QB who has played all four games and a rating of 73.1 that’s 30th in the NFL. San Francisco is also worst in the league in three-and-out percentage, doing so half the time. But Kelly isn’t prepared to play Colin Kaepernick yet.
The 49ers also got bad news Monday when it was learned that one of the NFL’s best linebackers, NaVorro Bowman, did tear his Achilles’ tendon in Sunday’s defeat. That’s a big loss. As it is, the 49ers have allowed an average of 458.3 yards and 35.7 points over the past three games. Defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, the team’s first-round pick this year, is also going to miss time with a foot injury. On the bright side, outside linebacker Aaron Lynch‘s four-game suspension is over. He had 6.5 sacks last year. Pressure on the quarterback has been lacking in 2016.
A lot of national NFL experts believed that the Cardinals had the best overall roster in the league this season and had them playing in Super Bowl LI, usually against either New England or Pittsburgh. But it’s going to be incredibly tough for the Cardinals to reach the postseason if they fall to 1-4 on Thursday.
Arizona was a 10-point favourite on Sunday against the visiting Los Angeles Rams but lost 17-13. Palmer had to leave that game in the fourth quarter when his head was slammed to the ground on a sack by Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald. Palmer is in the NFL’s concussion protocol, and with the quick turnaround it’s very unlikely he’s ready.
Cardinals No. 2 QB Drew Stanton was 4-for-11 for 37 yards and two interceptions in the final minutes against the Rams, including on a Hail Mary on the game’s final play. The Cardinals had five turnovers overall and a couple of costly penalties. Stanton hasn’t started a meaningful game since Week 15 of the 2014 season. He’s 5-3 as a starter with Arizona.
While Arizona did a nice job stopping Rams star running back Todd Gurley, the Cardinals also made journeyman QB Case Keenum look like Tom Brady. Keenum had a quarterback rating of 111.2, the third-best single-game mark of his career. There are a myriad reasons why Arizona is struggling, but probably none more than the offensive line. Going back to last season, including playoffs, this team has lost five of its past seven games.
Cardinals vs. 49ers Prediction
Arizona swept San Francisco last year, winning 47-7 in the desert and 19-13 at Levi’s Stadium. Gabbert started the close loss, with the Cardinals winning on an 8-yard Palmer TD run with 2:28 left. It was their first victory at San Francisco since 2008. I don’t have a ton of faith in Stanton this week but even less in Gabbert. Give the points and most certainly go under that total. Click here to bet on the 49ers vs. Cardinals on Thursday Night Football