Sunday NFL Odds, Predictions, Picks: 49ers vs. Cardinals Betting Preview for Week 5
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images. Pictured: Trey Lance.
- The Arizona Cardinals are the only unbeaten team through four weeks — can they hold onto that title against the San Francisco 49ers?
- At least for the point spread, our public betting data suggests bettors are split between the Cardinals and 49ers chances to cover.
- Our analyst examines the 49ers vs. Cardinals odds and matchup below before making his pick on this Week 5 NFL matchup.
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The NFL season is always full of surprises. Good teams become bad, bad teams become good and there always seems to be a team who flies under the radar and becomes a contender seemingly overnight.
This year's team is the Arizona Cardinals, who come into Week 5 with a 4-0 record, undefeated after a dominant 37-20 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
Sitting at first place in the NFC West, the Cardinals host the NFC West-rival San Francisco 49ers, who have lost two straight games and look to bounce back with Trey Lance set to make his first career start.
The betting markets have made a huge adjustment to the power ratings of both of these teams with the Cardinals sitting at 5.5 point favorites with a total of 48.5.
Can the Cardinals keep the train rolling with a win over the 49ers or is this a letdown spot against Lance and San Francisco after a big win over the Rams?
Let's analyze both sides and find out!
Niners Set to Unleash Lance
A game-winning drive by Aaron Rodgers and injury to Jimmy Garoppolo, in a game that saw the 49ers outgained the Seahawks in yards per play at 6.3-4.3, is all it took to drastically alter the perception of a Niners team that many believed was among the best in the NFC.
With the 49ers losing Garoppolo to a calf injury, this opens up the door for Lance put his dual-threat ability on full display. This almost feels reminiscent of Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in that Lance may add so much that it wouldn't surprise me if Garrappolo never got his job back.
While that's jumping ahead, Lance shows some some of what was capable coming off the bench last week, completing 9-of-18 passes for 157 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 41 yards on seven attempts.
Tight end George Kittle is doubtful for this game with a calf injury but with a full week of practice, Shanahan should be able to devise a game plan to maximize Lance's strengths and do things that the Cardinals have never seen on film. We'll likely see the outside zone runs with lots of play action, bootlegs and motion.
Rookie running back Elijah Mitchell was cleared to play, and he should provide a solid one-two punch with Trey Sermon in the backfield. With Lance's running ability, I expect a solid offensive performance from the 49ers.
Defensively, a lot will depend on the 49ers' ability to generate pressure on Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray. San Francisco was able to sack Russell Wilson three times last week and for much of the first half, it had Seattle's offense contained.
The 49ers are just 15th in Pass Rush Win Rate, and they'll need to pressure Murray in order to keep Arizona's high-powered offense in check.
Can Murray Keep Up Incredible Pace?
Murray is at the top of the list for the league's Most Valuable Player after the first four games of the season. He's third in passing yards (1,216), fifth in touchdown passes (nine), fourth in Football Outsiders DVOA and fourth in Expected Points Added (EPA) per play.
Murray is coming off a game against the Rams that saw him complete 24-of-32 passes for 268 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing six times for 39 yards.
His ability to run and create when the the play breaks down is a big reason for the success of this offense which is first in points scored (35), second in EPA/play, fourth in Success rate and sixth in DVOA. There are plenty of weapons on this team in DeAndre Hopkins, Rondale Moore, A.J. Green, Chase Edmonds and James Connor.
Arizona's offensive line has been banged up, though, with Kelvin Beachum, Justin Murray and Rodney Hudson all appearing on the injury report. This unit has held up well despite all that, though.
This Cardinals offense is due for some regression, though. We've seen Arizona struggle this season against the lowly Jacksonville Jaguars, so it wouldn't be a surprise to see this offense slow down this week against San Francisco.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinals have struggled to stop the run this season, ranking 29th in Rushing Success Rate, 19th in rushing EPA/play and last in explosive run defense.
Against the 49ers, if you can't stop the run, it will open up the rest of their offense.
The Cardinals are missing cornerback Byron Murphy, who was ruled out with a rib injury, and cornerback Marco Wilson (ribs) is also going to be a game-time decision.
As a whole, we could see this Cardinals defense tested this week as it was against Jacksonville and Minnesota.
This is the biggest overreaction of the week.
Arizona is coming off its biggest win of the season, and the lookahead line before that was Cardinals -2.5 for this game.
In the preseason, this line was Cardinals -1.5. Now, they host the 49ers as 5.5-point favorites. Is it warranted?
From my view, this is a clear over-adjustment for a Cardinals team that trailed down 19-10 in the second half against the Jaguars and was a missed field goal away from losing against the Vikings.
With Arizona struggling to stop the run, we could see Kyle Shanahan implement an offense that takes advantage of Lance and wide receiver Deebo Samuel's speed.
While Shanahan has struggled as a favorite, he's been impressive as an underdog with a 23-16 (59%) record against the spread:
Overall, I'm expecting the 49ers to find some success offensively after a full week to game plan for the strengths of Lance. San Francisco should keep this within the number.
Pick: 49ers +5.5