The 8-1 San Francisco 49ers will look to extend their seven game winning streak versus the 3-6 Arizona Cardinals. Looks like it should be a easy win for the 49ers but as Lee Corso likes to say, “Not so fast my friends.” To state the obvious the Cardinals are a divisional rival and division games can be tricky. Some fans around the league believe that the Niners are due for a “let down” game. The Niners just came off a big emotional win over a very good New York Giants football team and many in the media are now labeling the 49ers to be “for real.” Meaning that the media are finally recognizing the 49ers to be elite. Which some believe might be a negative thing for the 49ers because it could lead them into feeling over confident. Thus far this season the 49ers have feed off the energy from the doubters in the media. Another factor to consider entering Sunday’s game against the Cardinals could be that the 49ers might be looking ahead to the “Harbaugh Bowl” when the 49ers play the Baltimore Ravens on Thanksgiving night. A game in which many Niners fans are already anticipating.
Lets not forget that Cardinals have been surging as of late. They came off a thrilling overtime win against the St. Louis Rams and last Sunday had a come from behind victory versus the Philadelphia Eagles. Even in losing efforts the Cardinals have been highly competitive. Earlier this season the Cards played a close game against the New York Giants. The game was highlighted by a play that should have been a fumble by Wide Receiver Victor Cruz when he put the ball on the ground without being touched. The officials ruled that Cruz had already surrendered himself so the play was blown dead. Later in the drive QB Eli Manning would throw the eventual game winning touchdown pass. In week 8 the Cards would blow a 24-6 halftime lead over a very tough Baltimore Raven team, losing 30-27. By no means are the Cards an easy team.
The play maker on the Cardinals roster that poses many threats not named WR Larry Fitzgerald is rookie sensation cornerback Patrick Peterson. The young man is a threat whenever he touches the football. He is still learning the ropes of playing cornerback in the NFL, but as a kick/punt returner he has been terrific. Peterson has three returns for touchdowns this season all in electrifying fashion. He could be the game breaker in this game for the Cards whether its on defense or on special teams.
But enough about the Cards, lets talk about why the 49ers will still pull off a close victory. I view the game plan being similar to the victories against the Cleveland Browns and Washington Redskins. The Niners will run the ball and run the ball well with RB Frank Gore and RB Kendall Hunter. The Niners are ranked 7th in rush offense in the NFL, while the Cards rush defense is ranked 21st in the NFL. Expect the Niners to run the ball often as they are accustomed to doing. Like always the Niner defense should shut down the running game, which the Cards are ranked 26th in the league. Expect the Cards to throw the ball for the majority of the game. Keep a close eye on rookie CB Chris Culliver. He has had a solid rookie season for the Niners, but struggled against the Giants and got beat in plays in multiple occasions. It will be interesting to see how he bounces back. The Cards passing game should keep them in the game. I predict final score will be 20-13 NINERS!