San Francisco 49ers vs Arizona Cardinals 10-29-2012

Monday Night Football Week #8 San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals +7 OvUn 38.5 October 29th, 8:30 EST ESPN

The NFC West takes center stage on Monday Night Football, as the 49ers head to Phoenix to take on the Arizona Cardinals. This is a crucial game for both teams, as a Cardinals win would propel Arizona to first place in the division.

The 49ers have been one of the best teams in the NFL this season and continued that trend last week in a hard fought 13-6 victory against Seattle. Frank Gore led the way – rushing for 131 yards and catching five receptions for 51 yards. The Niner defense also came up big, limiting the Seahawks to just 251 yards of offense.

Defense and a ground game have been the recipe for success for the 5-2 49ers. Frank Gore has been tremendous against the Cardinals in his career, rushing for an average of 113.2 yards per game and scoring 11 TDs in 11 starts against the Cardinals. San Francisco is also giving up an NFL low 272.3 yards per game and rank second in the NFL with 14.3 allowed per contest. Both of these factors could help the struggling 49er offense, which has scored just 16 points in its last two games.

The Cardinals have problems very similar to San Francisco. After averaging nearly 23 points per game offensively in their first four games, Arizona has scored just 33 points in past three games – all losses. Defensively, they have been stout, holding opponents to just under 17 points per game, good for 4th in the NFL in points allowed.

Things don’t look to get too much better for the Cardinals this week, either. Backup QB John Skelton has been exceedingly poor in his last two starts, including a 21-14 loss to Minnesota last week. Skelton threw for 262 yards and a touchdown but turned the ball over twice. However, the line has not done a respectable job protecting Arizona QBs all year, and it was the same story last week as Skelton was sacked 7 times in the loss.

The Line

The number has moved a fair bit off the Arizona +4 opener and is at +7 everywhere. The total has moved slightly off the opening number of 37.5 and is trending upward. Most places have it at 38.5 or 38.

The Play

It is rare that bettors will have a chance to bet a home underdog getting a touchdown or more. The Cardinals have been pretty terrible over their three game slide, but San Francisco certainly isn’t lighting the world on fire either. Most worrisome is the play of Alex Smith, who seems to have reverted to the Alex Smith of old. He threw for just 140 yards in a victory at Seattle, and got eaten alive by the Giants on October 14th, throwing three interceptions and posting a season low QB rating of 24.8. The Cardinals still have a major weapon in Larry Fitzgerald, and should be able to keep this one close if they can protect Skelton enough to get him the ball.

Our play: Pick Arizona at +7.

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