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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: SF 13, ARI 24

Update: Ashley Lelie did not practice on Wednesday because of his strained quad and appears likely to miss this week. Since Jason HIll is also banged up, the 49ers will likely go with Bryan Gilmore as the slot guy against the Seahawks.

The 49ers opened this season with a 20-17 win over the visiting Cardinals and the paths of the two teams since could not be more different. The 49ers have lost their last eight games while the Cardinals are 5-5 and could challenge Seattle for the NFC West crown. While the Cards may not be a great road team yet, they did win last week in Cincinnati and the 49ers cannot win anywhere.

San Francisco 49ers (2-8)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 ARI 20-17 -3.5 45
2 @STL 17-16 +3 44
3 @PIT 16-37 +9 35.5
4 SEA 3-23 +1.5 40.5
5 BAL 7-9 +3.5 34.5
6 BYE - - -
7 @NYG 6-33 +9.5 40
8 NO 10-31 +2.5 40
9 @ATL 16-20 +3 37
10 @SEA 0-24 +10 39.5
11 STL 9-13 +2.5 41
12 @ARI   +10 38
13 @CAR 2-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
14 MIN 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 CIN 15-Dec SAT 8:15 PM
16 TB 23-Dec SUN 8:15 PM
17 @CLE 30-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
SFO at ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Trent Dilfer     200,1
RB Frank Gore 60 20  
TE Vernon Davis   40  
WR Darrell Jackson   30  
WR Arnaz Battle   70,1  
WR Bryan Gilmore   30  
WR Ashley Lelie 30
PK Joe Nedney 2 FG 1 XP  

Pregame Notes: Not only are the 49ers ranked #32 - dead last - in points scored this year, their paltry 113 points in ten games is 29 points less than #31 Atlanta. Frank Gore cannot shake the effects of a sprained ankle and the passing game sputters because the receivers are dropping the few passes that are accurately thrown. Consider that they have not scored more than 16 points since week two and have a grand total of only five touchdowns over the last nine games. It's bad and it is not over. This team has the bad mojo funk that bleach and scalding hot water could not wash out.

Quarterback: While Trent Dilfer has been an upgrade over Alex Smith, that still doesn't mean much other than the 49ers now can throw for more than 200 yards and yet still lose. Dilfer coughs up a couple of interceptions in most games and has been sacked 17 times this year in only four games played. To top it off, the receivers cannot hold on to the ball when it reaches them.

Smith threw for 126 yards in week one when the Cardinals came to San Francisco.

Running Backs: Frank Gore comes off the worst game in his career as a starter when he only gained 32 yards on 15 carries against the Rams. He is still bothered by his ankle sprain and limped a bit in the Rams game. He has not score since week two and lately can only see the endzone with the aid of binoculars. The lone positive, small as it is, is that Dilfer tends to throw to Gore a little more than Smith did.

Gore gained 55 yards on 18 carries with one score against the Cards this year.

Wide Receivers: This group is without any fantasy value unless you can live with 40 to 60 yards a game without a score from Arnaz Battle because the secondary is busy shutting down Darrell Jackson. Battle does have the team lead with two receiving scores but nothing for this group is looking up for the rest of the year. It is all but guaranteed they will be learning a new offense in 2008 anyway.

The 49ers are trying to incorporate the rookie Jason Hill into the offense but he stained his groin and missed the second half last week.

Battle led all wideouts with 60 yards on five catches against the Cards earlier this season.

Tight Ends: A bright spot - though more like a feebly flickering light - is Vernon Davis who has turned in 50+ yards in three of the last four games but he only has one score on the year and only had one catch for four yards two weeks ago. Davis only had two catches for four yards in the season opener against the Cardinals.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers are a team that matters more what little they bring into games rather than what they will be facing. The Cards at home always play better defense and are on a bit of a roll lately. Expect the same disappointing numbers from Gore though the Cardinals rushing defense is only average.

Ditto for Dilfer who faces a secondary that can be beaten but that will play better at home against a known opponent this week. I like Dilfer to actually throw for one score and who knows - it could reach the giddy heights of two touchdowns but other than Battle or Davis no one catches touchdowns here and Davis faces the #1 defense against tight ends.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 32 31 30 29 31 32
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 17 12 28 1 19 11


Arizona Cardinals (5-5)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @SF 17-20 +3.5 45
2 SEA 23-20 +2.5 42.5
3 @BAL 23-26 +8 35.5
4 PIT 21-14 +6 42.5
5 @STL 34-31 -3 40.5
6 CAR 10-25 -6 38.5
7 @WAS 19-21 +7 37
8 BYE - - -
9 @TB 10-17 +3.5 37
10 DET 31-21 -1 45
11 @CIN 35-27 +3 48.5
12 SF   -10 38
13 CLE 2-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
14 @SEA 9-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
15 @NO 16-Dec SUN 1:00 PM
16 ATL 23-Dec SUN 4:05 PM
17 STL 30-Dec SUN 4:15 PM
ARI vs SFO Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     250,2
RB Edgerrin James 90,1 10  
TE Leonard Pope   10  
WR Anquan Boldin   70,1  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   110,1  
WR Bryant Johnson   40  
PK Neil Rackers 1 FG 3 XP  

Pregame Notes: The Cardinals have won their last two games and have a nice shot at a winning season with match-up remaining against SF, CLE, NO, ATL and STL. They should end up around .500 at least and the week 14 game in Seattle could actually be meaningful since the Cards won in Seattle this year and a sweep could end up giving them the division title. Kurt Warner is throwing very well against the softer slate of defenses lately and the team is largely healthy.

Quarterback: While Kurt Warner may be playing with a bad left elbow, his performances the last two weeks have been more than solid with a total of five scores against only one interception. With a slate of some of the worst secondaries on tap for the rest of the year, expect that he will continue to shine and should have no bad weather games this year as well.

Leinart only threw for 102 yards and one score in San Francisco this year.

Running Backs: Edgerrin James has been less successful as the season progresses and only has a total of 127 rushing yards over the last three games but he has six scores on the year and has been on a trend to score every other week lately. He has almost no role in the passing game though so his fantasy value has been contingent on him picking up a touchdown. His second best game of the year was when he gained 92 yards and scored once against the 49ers this year.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin has been clearly bothered by his injured hip since returning in week nine but posted four catches for 71 yards and a score in Cincinnati last Sunday. Larry Fitzgerald is enjoying a career season so far at least in yardage since he has been over 90 yards in each of the last seven games other than when he only had 74 yards against the Lions and yet scored twice. But he only has four scores on the year and three came in the last two weeks. Boldin has been slow to heal but Fitzgerald has stepped up nicely and is on pace to rack up over 1400 receiving yards and over 100 catches this year.

Neither Boldin nor Fitzgerald had more than 33 yards against the 49ers this year though Boldin had the one touchdown.

Tight Ends: Leonard Pope has scored four times this year and had a few games with over 30 yards but most games see him with either one or no catches. Not enough consistency for fantasy relevance but he does occasionally contribute.

Match Against the Defense: The 49ers defense has been almost average against the run and even while they are on the road this week, the Cards have not been running that well lately anyway. Look for one rushing score from James with healthy yardage but likely not a huge game. He just hasn't been used that heavily this year.

Warner should delight in playing the 49ers this week since they will give up a couple of scores to teams that bother to throw much. Both Boldin and Fitzgerald are obvious plays this week and both should score. Figure the Cards to want to pile on a bit more than most teams since the 49ers already beat the them this year.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 13 26 7 25 24 8
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 16 17 20 10 28 31

The Huddle
~ 2007 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

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