Arizona Cardinals (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS) vs. San Francisco 49ers (1-3 SU, 1-3 ATS)
Week 5 NFL
Date/Time: Thursday Night Football, October 6, 2016 at 8:25PM EST
Where: Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: ARI -2.5/SF +2.5
Over/Under Total: 42
Thursday Night Football features NFC west action from Levi's Stadium, as the Arizona Cardinals come to visit the San Francisco 49ers in key week 5 action. The 49ers are 1-3 after losing 24-17 to Dallas on Sunday at home. The Niners gave it a good go, but fell short with a late Dallas spurt. Arizona, meanwhile, equaled their loss-total from all of last year in the first ¼ of this season, falling to 1-3 on Sunday with a discouraging 17-13 loss to the Rams. A team that many fancied as a potential Super Bowl team is now already facing a crisis scenario this season.
The early-season woes for the Cardinals got worse on Sunday, losing as ten-point favorites at home. One would have thought at 1-2 and at home that a vintage Cardinals' performance was in-store, but it was anything but. And with two losses at home, the fans are certainly getting antsy. Can the Cardinals turn it around and get this on the right track? It might be tough as they take to the road, now likely without Carson Palmer, who suffered a concussion when slammed to the ground by the Rams' Aaron Donald. With the short week, you have to figure we'll see more of Drew Stanton, who filled in for Palmer on Sunday and threw two picks on 4-for-11 passing. Stanton was able to have some success, but you'd have liked to see the Cardinals get a more attractive backup the last two years in the event that Palmer went down.
The Cardinals' defense is still formidable, though we're not seeing the same game-changing unit of recent memory. They gave up 33 to Buffalo in week three, but have allowed just 47 points combined in their other three games. Chandler Jones has added a lot to the pass-rush. And they did hold Todd Gurley to very little on the ground after giving up a lot to Buffalo the week before. Still, they allowed a lot of big pass plays to LA and have been having that happen a lot this season.
On offense, the optimism will be tempered with Palmer an almost certain no-go. They had some good developments in the past few weeks, even in the midst of losing. John Brown has come to life in the aerial game and had 10 catches for 144 yards on Sunday. RB David Johnson is developing more into an every-down back. But overall, they haven't been making it count with points. Sunday was another case in point, with 420 total yards of offense manifesting only into one touchdown and a pair of field goals. Drew Stanton coming in with two picks didn't help any, but the offense was having problems before without many turnovers, making it all the more curious.
It shows how much perception plays into it, with Arizona falling to 1-3 with big expectations somehow hurting more than the Niners being 1-3, with their expectations being low. There's something about this Frisco team that makes it hard to look at them as a really bad team, despite a 1-3 record straight-up and against-the-spread. They shut out the Rams in week one and the Rams have gone on to win all of their subsequent games. They took to the road for two games against Carolina and Seattle, losing both. And then they lost at home to Dallas this past week. Still, they've been in these games, other than the loss at Seattle, and it's fair to say they're at least a little better than the team we saw last season.
San Fran quarterback Blaine Gabbert has been far from great, but his performances have at least been plucky. There's a certain energy to his play that can be contagious. Carlos Hyde had a pretty good game and ran in a score on Sunday. Jeremy Kerley caught a TD pass on 88 yards receiving with Garrett Celek adding some production. Under Chip Kelly, we're seeing a more energetic offense at least. He doesn't really have a ton of tools at his disposal. Not a lot of guys who star in this offense would even get a lot of playing time on most offenses. Still, we're seeing a better overall vibe on this side of the ball, with occasional spurts of explosiveness. If they could only sustain it a bit more…
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We may have been accustomed to a tough San Fran defense in recent years, but last year officially brought an end to that particular era. And it continues this season with a porous "D" that is worst in the league against the run. That was evident on Sunday, as Cowboys' back Ezekiel Elliott ran for 138 yards on the day. The week before, they gave up a big game to Seattle's Christine Michael, with Fozzy Whitaker hitting the 100-yard mark the week prior. With Arizona's David Johnson hitting his stride and more of a run game unfolding with Palmer out, what can this defense come up with? They suffered more bad news with NaVorro Bowman going down with a torn Achilles, a devastating setback for the linebacker who looked reborn this season.
The Cardinals have their back against the wall, but are they in a position to do much about it? They may have caught a break with SF on the schedule this week, but it wasn't really that easy of a matchup even with Palmer in there. There's no doubting how instrumental Palmer is to this team, as his record as Cardinals' starter would attest. San Francisco could be enlivened at the prospects of a win being more within their grasp this week and we can't bring ourselves to lay points on Arizona. I'll take the home dog.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the San Francisco 49ers plus 2.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today by signing up and betting the Cardinals vs. 49ers game at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 100% sign-up bonus!