Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
Line: San Francisco -10
Where: Estadio Azteca, Mexico City, Mexico
When: Monday, 11/21 at 8:15 p.m. ET
The San Francisco 49ers will be looking to move into a tie atop the NFC West when they face the Arizona Cardinals in Mexico City on Monday night.
San Francisco has won two straight games and is now a heavy -250 favorite to win the division this year. Arizona was able to keep its playoff hopes afloat with a win over the Rams last weekend, but the Cardinals are still 40-1 longshots to win the division, according to offshore sportsbook BetOnline.
The 49ers opened as just 1.5-point favorites in the look-ahead line for this game, but the early betting action had pushed the line all the way through multiple key numbers up to -8 by Friday. By Monday morning, the 49ers were all the way up to -10
Tonight’s total opened at 46.5 points and has since dropped to 43.
Some of that line movement can be attributed to the status of Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray, who sat out last week due to a hamstring injury. He was considered a game-time decision last week, but Colt McCoy ended up replacing him in the upset win as a 3.5-point underdog.
Head coach Kliff Kingsbury said Friday that he expected Murray to be a game-time decision again on Monday night, as he has been limited in practice all week. However, as of Monday morning, all signs (and reports from reliable NFL insiders) were pointing to McCoy getting the starting nod tonight.
The betting market certainly views McCoy as a huge drop off, even though he is 3-1 as a replacement for Murray since the beginning of last season.
Murray is not the only significant injury that Arizona is dealing with—tight end Zach Ertz suffered a serious knee injury last week and is going to be out on Monday. He leads the passing attack with a team-high 47 receptions for 406 yards and four touchdowns. Wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins caught 10 passes for 98 yards on a team-high 14 targets against the Rams, while Rondale Moore had nine receptions for 94 yards. Hopkins is listed as ‘questionable’ with a hamstring issue, but he’s expected to play barring any setbacks.
McCoy is dealing with an injury of his own, as a knee issue forced him to leave last week’s game briefly before he returned. He finished 26 of 37 for 238 yards and a touchdown, leading an offense that is in the middle of the pack in the NFL, averaging 333.7 yards per game.
“He got hurt, he stepped back in and just was the same guy,” Kingsbury said. “He didn’t get fazed by any of it. That’s kind of his biggest quarterback trait that I’ve been impressed by. He doesn’t get rattled and he just plays his game, stick to his guns and trusts what he can do out there.”
McCoy will be facing a San Francisco defense that ranks first in the NFL, allowing just 280.6 yards per game. The 49ers are quickly becoming one of the top offenses in the league as well, ranked ninth in yards per game (360.0).
They got wide receiver Deebo Samuel back from an injury last week, as he caught two passes and rushed four times, totaling 51 yards. Running back Elijah Mitchell had 18 carries for 89 yards, surprisingly getting more touches than the recently acquired Christian McCaffrey.
Veteran quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has thrown for 1,931 yards, 11 touchdowns and four interceptions this season. He is now trying to figure out how to distribute the ball to his wealth of options, which also includes wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk and tight end George Kittle. They got into the red zone five times last week, but they only turned two of those trips into touchdowns.
San Francisco is scoring touchdowns on 54.8% of its red zone drives overall this year, which is a significant dip from its league-leading 66.7% rate last year. The 49ers are facing a struggling Arizona defense that is allowing 357.6 yards per game.
“I do think there were a lot of things clicking, but you’re not going to get points if you move it and can’t score inside the 10,” head coach Kyle Shanahan said. “You’re not going to get enough points, that’s for sure.”
Arizona is 7-1-1 against the spread in the last nine meetings between these teams. The 49ers are 13-7 ATS in their last 20 games overall, while the Cardinals are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against divisional opponents. San Francisco has gone ‘under’ in 13 of its last 17 games—Arizona has gone ‘over’ in four of its last five games.
The pick: San Francisco -10
Let’s try this again. I laid the points with the 49ers last Sunday night in primetime just to see them come up short in the red zone too many times, but I still felt like I was on the right side. They are facing an Arizona team that briefly kept its season alive last week, although that victory came against a struggling Rams squad. San Francisco has so many options on offense, and I expect the coaching staff to get things dialed in as the season progresses. The 49ers also have the league’s best defense, which does not bode well for an Arizona offense that is going to be without its top target and potentially its starting quarterback. San Francisco practiced at a high altitude all week in Colorado Springs, while Arizona opted to remain at home.