This week the San Francisco 49ers travel to the University of Phoenix Stadium for their contest against the Arizona Cardinals. It will be the second divisional game in a row for the 49ers and their opportunity to distance themselves from their NFC west peers. This contest also marks the third time the 49ers are to play a primetime game, as well as their first of two Monday night contests in 2012. The 49ers, at 5-2 on the year, are coming off a brutally hard fought win against the Seattle Seahawks in week seven. Only to step back into another dog fight at Arizona. Divisional games are always a heated affair, with stoic and determined play by both organizations. Without question, this game will come down to heart and desire to pull off the win.
The 49ers, on their part, have to keep with the program that has brought them their five wins already. The running attack is a must. Even with a staunch Cardinals defense making life difficult for them, the 49ers cannot get discouraged. They have to keep giving the ball to running back Frank Gore to make this trip into the Cardinals home a success. Gore is the catalyst that drives the 49ers offense. Only with his efforts, do the opportunities for the 49ers other offensive avenues transpire. Gore is fourth in the entire league in rushing with 601 yards, and tied for third in the league in rushing touchdowns with four. It is absolutely imperative that the 49ers go to him early and often. Then sprinkle in some Kendall Hunter as relief, and add some short passes to Michael Crabtree and Vernon Davis. With that, the defense is opened up to deep balls to Randy Moss and Mario Manningham, as well as allowing the wild cat offense and back up quarterback Colin Kaepernick to utilize their skills.
With that formula, it will be difficult for any team to beat them, let alone the Cardinals. Especially when the 49ers defense will be drooling at the thought of the opportunity to make game changing plays. The Cardinals offense is in a complete state of disarray right now, and they are leaving the door wide open for defenses to take advantage of their shortcomings.
Just in the last four games they have allowed 29 sacks. The relentless 49ers pass rush should have a field day pressuring the quarterback if the Cardinals haven’t solved their offensive line problems. And in the last three games, the Cardinals offense has thrown three interceptions to only two touchdowns. That is due in large part to the woes of the offensive line as well, the quarterback just doesn’t have enough time to make correct decisions and accurate passes. To top it all off, both the first and second string running back are on the injured reserve list. The current starting running back for them was ranked fourth in the depth chart coming into the season.
The Cardinals are coming off of three straight losses heading into week eight. And while there is always hope for teams to pull off unprecedented upsets, there is no doubt that the tide keep pushing the Cardinals further and further into deeper water. The Cardinals, even if they find a way to keep their quarterback upright, will need a Herculean effort to dethrone the 49ers from atop the NFC west. I can be done, but it is very unlikely. Prediction: 49ers 31, with seven sacks and two interception. Cardinals 10.
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