The Arizona Cardinals will look to remain unbeaten and hand their division rivals their second consecutive loss when they host the San Francisco 49ers in a Week 3 NFC West divisional battle that could have playoff implications, even at this early juncture of the 2014 season.
To give you an edge this weekend here is my latest lines and prediction for this NFC West battle.
San Francisco at Arizona
Time: 4:05 PM
Spread: San Francisco -2
Latest NFL Lines & Predictions Preview as Cardnials Host 49ers
Arizona (2-0 SU, 1-1 ATS) came back from an early deficit to beat San Diego 18-17 in their Week 1 matchup although they failed to cover the spread as a 3-point home favorite. The Cardinals looked even more impressive in man-handling the New York Giants 25-14 in Week 2 to cover the spread as a 1-point road dog.
Arizona beat the G-Men with backup quarterback Drew Stanton under center as starter Carson Palmer sat out with nerve pain in his throwing shoulder. Stanton completed just 14 of 29 passes for 167 yards against New York as the team’s defense put the clamps on Eli Manning and company.
Not only will the Cardinals be without their starting quarterback, but they’ll also be without backup running back Jonathan Dwyer following his arrest in connection with two altercations at his home in late July involving a 27-year-old woman and an 18-month-old child.
— Arizona Cardinals (@AZCardinals) September 19, 2014
The Cardinals rank in the middle third in every meaningful offensive statistical category, but are playing wonderful defense for the second straight season as they rank 100th in total yards allowed, third against the run and seventh in points allowed (15.5).
San Francisco (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) looked fantastic in spanking Dallas 28-17 in Week 1 to cash in as a 3.5-point road favorite. Unfortunately, the Niners looked nothing like the team that took the field in Week 1 in their humbling 28-20 Week 2 loss to Chicago in Week 2.
The 49ers failed to cover the spread as a 7-point home favorite as quarterback Colin Kaepernick turned the ball over four times while throwing three interceptions. San Francisco blew a 17-point lead in the loss in their first-ever game at Levi’s Stadium.
"I think he was seeing things good," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "He threw some pretty darn good balls that got intercepted."
Kaepernick completed 21 of 34 points for 248 yards with one TD pass and the aforementioned three picks. The Niners have had a league-high 27 penalties called on them through two games.
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) September 19, 2014
"Those penalties, man, they hurt us big time," linebacker Patrick Willis said. "We had a lot of opportunities where we had a chance to get off the field and you turn around and see the flag. It’s kind of like a punch in the gut."
Latest NFL Lines & Predictions Analysis – Cardnials Vs. 49ers
I really like the Arizona Cardinals this season and fully expect them to contend for a playoff berth after just missing out on one last season, but I can’t back them in this contest.
With Carson Palmer out I think Arizona is going to have trouble passing the ball, thereby effectively making them a one-dimensional team that the Niners can stack the box against.
San Francisco has gone 6-1 ATS in their last seven road games against a team with a winning home record and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games overall.
The Cardinals have compiled some formidable ATS trends themselves in going 5-1 ATS in their last six games against their NFC counterparts and 7-2 ATS in their last nine games overall.
Again however, with Palmer out, I think Arizona is facing a big uphill battle to score the ball against a Niners team that is ranked sixth in total yards and seventh against the run.
The 49ers are 7-1 ATS in their last eight road games against the Cardinals and 9-2 ATS in their last 11 meetings against Arizona overall. Last but not least, the road team in this series is 12-5 ATS in the last 17 meetings.