49ers vs. Cardinals NFL Week 17 Preview
Kickoff: 4:25 ET
Stadium: Candlestick Park
Weather: 56/43 degrees, sunny, 0 percent chance of rain.
Stats That Matter
San Francisco 49ers (10-4-1)
Point Differential: +110 (5th).
Yards per game: 358.8 (11th). Yards allowed per game: 296.5 (2nd).
Passing yards per game: 201.3 (25th). Passing yards allowed per game: 199.7 (4th).
Rushing yards per game: 157.5 (4th). Rushing yards allowed per game: 96.8 (6th).
Turnover Differential: +7 (10th).
Sacks: 36 (12th). Sacks allowed: 40 (23rd).
Offensive 3rd down efficiency: 35.6 (23rd).
Defensive 3rd down efficiency: 33.5 (4th).
Arizona Cardinals (5-10)
Point Differential: -97 (26th).
Yards per game: 263.1 (32nd). Yards allowed per game: 333.2 (12th).
Passing yards per game: 186.5 (28th). Passing yards allowed per game: 195.7 (3rd).
Rushing yards per game: 76.5 (32nd). Rushing yards allowed per game: 137.5 (28th).
Turnover Differential: +1 (15th).
Sacks: 37 (10th). Sacks allowed: 56 (32nd).
Offensive 3rd down efficiency: 25.2 (32nd).
Defensive 3rd down efficiency: 33.2 (3rd).
The Cardinals lost nine straight before surprisingly defeating the Detroit Lions a couple of weeks ago. They got back to their inept ways last weekend, and I don’t believe they’ll have a prayer against the 49ers. Don’t blame the defense for their struggles, though. The Cardinals have some talent on that side of the ball and, while they struggle against the run, they are coached well and have shown up in plenty of games.
However, that poor run defense plays directly into the hands of the 49ers, who run the ball as well as anyone in the league. If Robert Griffin III didn’t pad the Washington Redskins‘ stats with rushing yards on scrambles, the 49ers would be the top rush offense.
The only—and I mean only—way the Cardinals hang on in this game is if their defense plays out of its mind and Brian Hoyer, getting his first start of the season, plays a great game. The Cardinals are inept in every single area of offense, so they are hoping a change at quarterback will better their chance of pulling off the major upset.
It won’t happen. Though rivalry games can be tricky and low-scoring affairs, I don’t see this one as a contest. The 49ers struggle in some areas offensively, like getting off the field on third down and protecting the quarterback, but Colin Kaepernick has improved them in both those areas.
The Cardinals can’t run, pass, protect the quarterback or get off the field on third down. They are dead last in three of four of the categories I just mentioned. That spells R-O-U-T.
Prediction: 49ers 27, Cardinals 6