49ers vs. Cardinals Betting Predictions

Cardinals at 49ers NFL
San Francisco vs. Arizona, NFL Betting Predictions, December 26

The move to Arizona seemed to have a devastating effect on the San Francisco 49ers, who have lost three straight since being kicked out of its home in the Bay Area due to COVID-19 restrictions. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals have steadied themselves after a bit of rough patch with consecutive victories to maintain a slim lead for the final spot in the postseason. Given the decline of the San Francisco defense, I expect the Cardinals to be able to move the ball effectively to pick up a needed win.

49ers vs. Cardinals Betting Odds

Turnovers have been a major problem for San Francisco the last four weeks since its bye week. But it has really come back to haunt it the last three weeks as the 49ers have slipped out of the playoff picture. The last two weeks, San Francisco has held the opponent to less than 300 yards of offense, but lost both games. Against Washington, the 49ers had three turnovers and the Football Team returned two of them for scores and kicked a field goal off the third. Dallas forced four turnovers last week and scored 24 of its 41 points off those miscues. If the 49ers continue to give out excellent field position to opposing offenses with their own offensive mistakes, it will be tough for them to win. It might be time for San Francisco to turn to C.J. Beathard at quarterback instead of Nick Mullens after Beathard went 5 of 7 for 100 yards and a score last week in relief of Mullens. The defense is going to be fine if the 49ers force teams to actually drive the ball down the field, and Beathard might be the best chance for San Francisco to limit the turnovers.

Arizona was a Hail Mary away from losing five consecutive games after its bye week, but that throw might ultimately earn them a spot in the postseason. The Cardinals’ defense is still a major concern having allowed 26 or more points five times in the last seven games. The only saving grace has been the offense has come alive the last two weeks. Kyler Murray looks healthier and he is continuing to make big plays at critical junctures for the Cardinals. Last week against Philadelphia, it was his arm that stole the show as he threw for 406 yards and three touchdowns while completing 75 percent of his passes. He also ran for his first touchdown in five weeks against the Eagles, but it is clear that Murray is winning games with his arm moreso than his legs right now. It would help the Cardinals if they could get the running game going a little bit more, but that will be a challenge against a stout 49ers front seven. Arizona will feel confident if this game can turn into a shootout, but the Cardinals are relying heavily on Murray and DeAndre Hopkins to continue to make plays for the offense.

The New Jersey online sports betting sites have set the over/under on this game at 48.5 points, which seems a bit low to me. As bad as the 49ers have been at protecting the football, they still found a way to score 33 points last week against the worse defense it has played in their last six games. Arizona’s defense is probably slightly better than Dallas’ right now, so I expect the 49ers to surge past the 22 points set as their individual over/under. Arizona’s offense can be explosive and I question what San Francisco will be able to do to keep Murray in the pocket. The 49ers struggled to contain Josh Allen a few weeks ago, and Murray is far more elusive. I think this game will threaten shootout territory given these two offenses playing against struggling defenses. I’m leaning to the over 55.5 total points at +200 odds for this game.

Cardinals to win

Arizona is 4.5-point favorites, and it makes sense that this game will be decided by a touchdown or less on either side. I’m giving the edge to the team with the better quarterback (Murray) and better playmaker (Hopkins) even though I trust the San Francisco defense more. If the 49ers take care of the ball and limit their turnovers, it will be on the Arizona defense to make the stops on the dynamic rushing attack the 49ers want to deploy. San Francisco is finally healthy in the backfield and they will try to take advantage of an average Cardinals rushing defense. Ultimately, I don’t know if it will matter because Murray and the Arizona offense are playing at another level right now. I’ll stick with my touchdown prediction, however, and bet the Cardinals laying 6.5 points at +120 odds at the NFL betting sites in New Jersey.

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Josh Walfish is an award-winning journalist who has been covering college and professional sports in the United States. He holds a journalism degree from Northwestern University and his work has appeared in the Miami Herald, Chicago Sun-Times and Providence Journal. He most recently chronicled the UMass hockey teams rise to prominence over the last two years for the local newspaper

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