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Predictions & Projections
David Dorey
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The Huddle
~ 2009 ~
Season Ticket
Sunday Late

Prediction: ARI 23, SF 20

The loss to the Seahawks last week drops the 49ers to 5-7 and almost certainly from playoff contention. They are 4-2 at home though and won the season opener 20-16 in Arizona. The Cardinals are 8-4 and on pace to win the division barring something cataclysmic and are 5-1 on the road. This is the Monday night game so the score is more likely to be higher than lower.

Arizona Cardinals (8-4)
Homefield: University of Phoenix Stadium
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 SF 16-20 -6 46
2 @JAC 31-17 +3 43
3 IND 10-31 -2.5 48
4 BYE - - -
5 HOU 28-21 -5.5 48
6 @SEA 27-3 +3 47
7 @NYG 24-17 +9 46.5
8 CAR 21-34 10 43.5
9 @CHI 41-21 +3 44.5
10 SEA 31-20 -9 46.5
11 @STL 21-13 -9.5 46.5
12 @TEN 17-20 +3.5 44.5
13 MIN 30-17 -3.5 48
14 @SF - - -
15 @DET - - -
16 STL - - -
17 GB - - -
ARI at SF Rush Catch Pass
QB Kurt Warner     270,2
RB Chris Wells 40 10  
RB Tim Hightower 50 20  
WR Anquan Boldin   80  
WR Larry Fitzgerald   90,1  
WR Steve Breaston   50,1  
PK Neil Rackers 3 FG 2 XP  
Pregame Notes: Beating the Vikings so decisively suddenly made everything all right once again in the desert. It said that these Cardinals can compete with anyone in the NFC and the remaining schedule is a sweet ride against losing records until the final week when the Packers visit and the game will likely have no importance at all. There is a small chance that the Cardinals could rest players due to inconsequential final weeks but it would not affect more than the last game.

Quarterback: Kurt Warner finally returned from his concussion but not before making every fantasy owner sweat on Sunday night. Warner admitted that not only did he still have some residual sensitivity to light, but that it stemmed from a concussion several years ago - not the one in St. Louis. Warner threw for 285 yards and three scores against the Vikings, outdueling Brett Favre and signaling that all is okay for what should be a very productive stretch the next three weeks right when you need him the most. Warner has thrown for multiple scores in each of the last five games.

Warner passed for 288 yards and one touchdown in the season opener against the 49ers.

The 49ers have only allowed two passers to score in San Francisco this year but three of the last four have passed for over 300 yards there. The Cardinals are at full strength now and playing a familiar opponent. Expect a decent showing here by Warner with very good yardage and a couple of touchdowns. Warner opened 2008 with a loss to the 49ers and only 197 yards and one score. The second meeting had him throwing for 328 yards and three touchdowns. Warner just starts slowly against the 49ers.

Running Backs: The success of Beanie Wells has taken a two week decline with him rushing for only 28 yards at most and never scoring. Tim Hightower retook the primary lead but only contributed around 50 yards in either of those games. The duo continue to split work and significantly diminish what either could do alone.

Neither runner did much in the season opener though Hightower had a season high 12 catches for 121 yards against the visiting 49ers. They only attempted 15 runs in that game.

The 49ers at home have been very good against the run though both Michael Turner and Chris Johnson had big games there. Most recently, Maurice Jones-Drew only managed to gain 75 yards on 15 carries there. Neither running back for the Cardinals appears to be a good start this week and realize that while Hightower had 12 catches in the season opener, he has never had more than four receptions in a road game this year.

Wide Receivers: Anquan Boldin only had two scores on the season but reeled in two more against the Vikings when he gained 98 yards on seven catches. His three best games have been in the last four weeks and the lone exception was when Matt Leinart was the quarterback. Warner has been connecting with Boldin very well in recent weeks. Larry Fitzgerald has ten touchdowns on the season to lead all NFL wideouts and he comes off his third 100 yard game. He's scored five times in the last four games that Warner played. Steve Breaston has been little used in the last two weeks but still remains a solid #3 option for Warner.

In the first meeting with the 49ers, Boldin was held to just 19 yards on two receptions and Fitzgerald had six catches for 71 yards and one score. Breaston gathered five passes for 83 yards in that game.

The 49ers have been very good against wide receivers while at home and only one - Roddy White - has scored there. But the cast of receivers going through San Francisco has hardly been the elite of the position like the Cards will bring and White had 210 yards there. This is less likely to be a huge game for any of the Cardinals receivers but there is no reason to expect less than a decent showing.

Tight Ends: No fantasy value.

Gaining Fantasy Points ARI 11 10 2 32 14 13
Preventing Fantasy Points SF 18 24 20 12 25 16

San Francisco 49ers (5-7)
Homefield: Monster Park
  Opp Score Spread Over/Under
1 @ARI 20-16 +6 46
2 SEA 23-10 -1.5 39
3 @MIN 24-27 +7 40.5
4 STL 35-0 -10 37.5
5 ATL 10-45 -2.5 41
6 BYE - - -
7 @HOU 21-24 +3 44.5
8 @IND 14-18 +13 45
9 TEN 27-34 -4 41
10 CHI 10-6 -4 43
11 @GB 24-30 +6 42
12 JAC 20-3 -3 42.5
13 @SEA 17-20 +1 41.5
14 ARI - - -
15 @PHI - - -
16 DET - - -
17 @STL - - -
SF vs ARI Rush Catch Pass
QB Alex Smith     250,2
RB Frank Gore 60 20  
TE Vernon Davis   70,1  
WR Josh Morgan   50  
WR Jason Hill   30  
WR Michael Crabtree   60,1  
PK Joe Nedney 2 FG 2 XP  

Pregame Notes: Tough loss in Seattle but then again everyone in the NFC West other than the Cardinals has a 1-5 record for road games. The 49ers would have to win out in order to have a winning record but that is highly unlikely if only because of playing in Philly next week. The last two weeks against the Lions and in St. Louis could be wins so this week will be the answer to the question - will the 49ers have another losing season? Lose to the Cardinals and it will happen.

Quarterback: Alex Smith has been a tremendous fantasy free agent pick-up around mid-season since he has thrown for multiple touchdowns in four of the last five games and comes off a season high 310 yards with two scores in Seattle. The 49ers have opted for a pass-heavy attack lately using the shotgun formation on most downs. It has been a great move in fantasy terms for Smith and the receivers. Smith has also not thrown an interception since going to the new formation.

The season opener in Arizona had Shaun Hill as the starter who threw for 209 yards and one score.

The Cardinals have been less than stellar against the pass and have already allowed five opponents to throw for over 300 yards. The safest assumption here is that Smith throws for decent yardage and two scores. He could have a big game potentially as have several other opponents of the Cardinals but the only two teams that did not score were NFC West opponents - SEA and STL. The Cardinals were playing at a high level last week against the Vikings as well.

Running Backs: While the fantasy fortunes of the 49ers have been improving lately, that does not extend to Frank Gore. He has not had more than 16 carries in a game for three weeks and never produced more than 68 total yards in those games. He did account for a passing score in weeks 11 and 12 though despite only gaining nine yards on three catches and 14 yards on seven receptions for those two weeks. Last Sunday without those receiving scores, Gore only had 62 total yards and was given just nine rushing attempts in Seattle. That was a bit of a step down from the 207 yards he had versus the Seahawks in their first meeting this year.

Gore ran for 30 yards on 22 carries and added 18 yards on three receptions in Arizona back in week one but had touchdowns both as a runner and a receiver.

Gore has not rushed well against the Cardinals and has been struggling as a runner for three weeks. There is a chance that he could score this week but it depends greatly on how much of a workload they give him. Most likely is just a game with moderate yardage. For a runner who shares minimally, Gore has been a disappointment for the last three weeks while the offense has been shifting focus.

Wide Receivers: Michael Crabtree is getting more consistent now and has been around 60 yards or so in each of the last three games with a score in two of them. Crabtree and Vernon Davis command most of the passes that Smith is throwing. Josh Morgan has also been productive lately with six catches in each of the last two games.

The Cardinals are weakest against wide receivers and there should be solid yardage and one touchdown here that could go to any one of the three wideouts. I'll credit it to Crabtree who has been hot lately and is getting more passes than the rest but the confidence level is not that high since nothing defensively suggests that he will be the one.

Tight Ends: There is no denying the importance of Vernon Davis to the weekly game plan and the comfort level that Smith has when throwing to him. Davis has scored ten times this year - tied with Larry Fitzgerald for tops in the entire league regardless of position. He has scored in each of the last three games during this offensive shift and regularly gets ten or more targets per game.

Davis only had 40 yards on five catches in the first meeting with the Cards. Expect a much better showing this time against a defense that has allowed seven touchdowns for the position. Davis is a tight end only by depth chart - he's really just a freakishly big and fast wideout.

Gaining Fantasy Points SF 19 25 30 1 24 14
Preventing Fantasy Points ARI 23 14 28 24 9 8

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