Cardinals vs. 49ers Odds & Picks: 3 Ways To Bet This NFC West Showdown (Sunday, Sept. 13)
Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Garoppolo
- The Arizona Cardinals travel to San Francisco to take on the 49ers to kick off their 2020 NFL season.
- Raheem Palmer believes the Cardinals will hang around with the Niners and even has an eye on the Arizona moneyline.
- Check out Palmer's full preview and analysis with updated odds below.
Cardinals vs. 49ers Odds
The 49ers held a 10-point fourth-quarter lead and were just six minutes and 13 seconds away from winning Super Bowl 54 before giving up 21 unanswered points to Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs in a disappointing 31-21 loss — yet another meltdown for a Kyle Shanahan-coached team.
You might remember just three years ago, when Shanahan was the offensive coordinator of the Falcons team that blew a 28-3 third-quarter lead to the Patriots in Super Bowl 51.
Now the 49ers are tasked with avoiding the Super Bowl hangover as they open up the 2020 season at home against their NFC West rivals in the Cardinals.
Oddsmakers opened the 49ers as 7.5-point favorites with an over/under total of 46.5, but the side has since been bet down to -6.5 while the total has been bet up to 48. So where is the betting value in this matchup? Let’s find out.
The Cardinals took an offense that was ranked eighth in Football Outsiders’ offensive DVOA and made it even scarier with the addition of All-Pro wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins. They got rid of dead weight in running back David Johnson, allowing Kenyan Drake to flourish and putting together a star-studded trio of receivers in DeAndre Hopkins, Larry Fitzgerald and Christian Kirk.
With this being quarterback Kyler Murray’s second year in head coach Kliff Kingsbury’s system, this could be one of the top offenses in the league.
If there’s a weakness when it comes to Arizona’s offense, it’s their line. They were 22nd in adjusted line yards, with Murray getting sacked 50 times, mostly because he held onto the ball too long. You can expect Murray to improve upon this in his second season.
But defensively is where the Cardinals really struggle. Although they have a solid core of defenders in All-Pro safety Budda Baker and pass rusher Chandler Jones, this is still a team that was 25th in points allowed (26.6 per game) and was 18th in defensive DVOA.
Arizona also struggled with takeaways, picking up only 17 all season, among the fewest in the league.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers come into this season hoping to shake off that Super Bowl hangover. Only three teams — the 1971 Dallas Cowboys, 1972 Miami Dolphins and 2018 New England Patriots — have won the Super Bowl after losing the previous season, and only eight have managed to return to the big game.
In the last five seasons, we’ve seen three teams — the 2019 Los Angeles Rams, 2017 Atlanta Falcons and 2016 Carolina Panthers — miss the playoffs altogether.
San Francisco’s road back to the Super Bowl has become tougher with the loss of WR Emmanuel Sanders in free agency and Pro Bowl defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who they traded to the Colts.
Historically, defense is less consistent year to year than offense. Thus, defensive regression is imminent for a 49ers team that was sixth in takeaways in 2019 with 27 and had just seven takeaways the year before. The 49ers finished fourth in Football Outsiders’ defensive DVOA with the second-ranked pass defense.
Buckner’s departure will mean Nick Bosa will face double teams on nearly every passing down. And while Richard Sherman was an elite corner in 2019, he’s not getting any younger. Plus, there are question marks about Emmanuel Moseley and Ahkello Witherspoon, who will be competing for the second starting cornerback spot.
On offense, Shanahan is a play-calling savant, but he’ll have his work cut out for him given the injuries to wide receiver Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, both whom are questionable for Sunday’s game (find the latest updates on both in our Week 1 NFL Injury Report).
George Kittle is still one of the best tight ends in the league, and the 49ers have a solid running game with Raheem Mostert and Tevin Coleman. Nonetheless, how far San Francisco goes will depend on the success of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo, who produced solid numbers in this first full season as a starter last year, throwing for 3,978 yards with 27 touchdowns with a 102.0 QB rating.
If the defense, regresses they’ll need Garoppolo to shoulder more of the load.
The loser of the Super Bowl is 4-16 against the spread (ATS) in the last 20 openers the following season. You could argue that the 49ers enter this season overvalued. They played in eight one-score games in 2019, winning five of them. Teams who win many one-score games typically experience regression the following year.
Despite having an elite defense, Arizona proved fully capable of scoring on San Francisco last season, covering both games as a double-digit underdog. Both games also went over the total, with the Cardinals scoring 25 and 26 points in each of the two meetings.
With regression from the 49ers, second-year growth from Murray and the addition of Hopkins, I see this as a spot in which the Cardinals can cover and possibly win outright. I like Arizona + 7, which you can still get at William Hill, and you can sprinkle a small percentage of your wager on the moneyline (DraftKings has the best price at +255).
In addition, I anticipate a high-scoring game, as my model makes this number 48. Unfortunately, all value has been sucked out of the total at this point. Oddsmakers opened the total 46.5, with some stray 45.5s in the market, and I was fortunate to grab the best of the number early in the summer. If this drops on game day, though, look to play the over along with the Cardinals.