Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: Are Oddsmakers Overreacting to C.J. Beathard?

Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: Are Oddsmakers Overreacting to C.J. Beathard? article feature image

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: C.J. Beathard

Betting odds: San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals

  • Over/Under: 41.5
  • Time: 4:25 p.m. ET
  • Channel: FOX

Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 4-3-1, +0.7 units
Last Week’s Result: Lions-Dolphins Under 47 (loss)

*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit

Nothing like a late-October NFL contest featuring two teams that are already virtually eliminated from playoff contention. With still two more months to go, mind you.

But such games can potentially be exploited from a betting perspective if you play your cards right (pun intended?), and thus, I’ve zoned in on this NFC West matchup between the cellar-dwelling 49ers and Cardinals from the desert.

The first thing that needs to be noted here is the meaning of the line placement in regards to the over/under. After opening up at 43.5, the total quickly shifted down more than a point and sat at 41.5/42 for almost the entirety of the week. At some books right now, it’s even as low as 41.

That’s significant because approximately one-third of the league (11 teams) is giving up more than 26 points per game this season. Two of those clubs are San Francisco (31.1) and Arizona (26.3).

So, why are the oddsmakers seemingly being aggressive in keeping the number relatively low? It appears their thought process falls in line with mine: that lackluster quarterback play will dictate an under triumph.

The Cardinals have rookie Josh Rosen under center, and while he’s shown flashes of being a future franchise quarterback, it hasn’t quite yielded immediate positive results. The No. 10 overall draft pick has endured growing pains while managing just a 66.0 passer rating in five games (four starts).

Arizona has been underachieving on offense collectively since the dawn of the campaign, averaging a mere 13.1 points per game — the second-fewest in the NFL. They have some legitimate weapons, like David Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald, but a poor quarterback showing can neutralize that.

Rosen, meanwhile, is coming off a rough outing that saw him toss three interceptions against Denver. By comparison, he had thrown just two entering the game. He also ate a season-high six sacks and fumbled the ball three times, losing two.

Well, if Rosen is trending down, even if just for a short period, he may find some difficulty opposite a 49ers defensive unit that cannot be slept on. There’s some notable talent on this defense, and that talent has shown it can get the job done when it matters most. Teams are converting only 37.9% of third downs against San Francisco, which is 12th best in the league.

On the other side of the field is a quarterback who has actually taken a bit of a step forward in his sophomore NFL season — but at the end of the day, he’s still just a backup-level quarterback.

That would be C.J. Beathard, who is playing for the Niners right now only because of the season-ending injury that sidelined face-of-the-franchise QB Jimmy Garoppolo. In Beathard’s first taste of professional football last year, he simply wasn’t good and actually spurred the desire for a quarterback, hence why San Fran went out and got Jimmy G midway through last season.

While Beathard began his latest stint as the starter with six touchdowns and nearly 900 passing yards in his first three starts, it seems the 2017 third-round draft pick has already begun regressing to his norm.

He turned in his worst performance of the season last week, albeit against a very good Rams defense. The 24-year-old was limited to just 170 yards and committed three turnovers while taking seven sacks.

I believe that’s more indicative of Beathard’s talent, as he’s a guy who doesn’t project as a future full-time starter. And thus, he could have another tough time Sunday afternoon, especially with a banged-up supporting cast. Receiver Pierre Garcon has already been ruled out, and starting running back Matt Breida will be playing limited snaps.

The 49ers will also have to go up against a solid Cardinals defense that might be underrated.

For one, Arizona has arguably the best cornerback in pro football in Patrick Peterson. The rest of the defense isn’t bad at all — overall the Cardinals are 11th best against the pass (233.9 yards per game).

Furthermore, Arizona has accumulated the third-most sacks (20) in the NFC, and will be facing an offense that has given up the second-most sacks (27) in the NFL.

I got my bet in at under 42 a couple days ago, and I suggest buying it up to that number if your book is not offering that.

Play: UNDER 42 (-110)