San Francisco 49ers @ Arizona Cardinals
Friday, 00:20 BST
Live on Sky Sports Action and Main Event
Bosa and the defence can dominate
Nick Bosa will be out to prove that the Cardinals made the wrong decision when they took Kyler Murray over him in April's draft, and if recent form is anything to go by, he will do just that. The pass rusher was on fire as San Francisco demolished the in-form Panthers on Sunday night. He had three sacks and an interception that he almost took all the way for a touchdown. The 49ers picked at two, but they may well have got the best player in the draft.
He is just part of what may well be the best defence in the NFL this season. The Patriots, Bills and Bears may have something to say about that, but the 49ers are certainly in the conversation. In the past four games they have given up just 23 points and held opposing teams to fewer than 100 net passing yards in each of them.
Niners run game is on fire
The 49ers have three of the top 13 players in yards per carry this season. Raheem Mostert leads the league, Matt Breida is fourth and Tevin Coleman sits 13th.
Kyle Shanahan is an offensive genius and he has shown through his years as a coordinator and head coach that getting a running game going is where he excels. While Sean McVay is widely regarded as the best offensive coach in the league, Shanahan has a pretty good argument to say he has done more than McVay, with less to work with. The offensive side of the ball does not have many names, but he is finding a way to make them produce great football, particularly on the ground.
The Cardinals are giving up 4.7 yards per carry this season, and it is hard to see them slowing down Shanahan and his committee of running backs. Picking out which one has the big day may be the hardest thing. It was Coleman's day on Sunday as he racked up four touchdowns, but it could be Breida, Mostert or even Jeff Wilson Jr this week. Wilson, the fourth choice back has four touchdowns himself this season. Already going at over 180 yards per game, expect them to add more to that against a struggling Cardinals defence.
Kenyan Drake not enough for the Cardinals
The loss to the Saints on Sunday ended a three-game winning streak for the Cardinals, but those wins came against teams with a combined record of 3-21 this season. When they have played teams with a winning record, they are 0-4 and have lost by an average margin of 15.75 points. The 49ers may well be the toughest team that Arizona has faced yet. It is hard to see them being able to keep this one close.
Things were not made any easier with the loss of Chase Edmonds. The second year running back left Sunday's loss to the Saints early on and looks set to miss this one - joining David Johnson on the sidelines. The team did trade for Kenyan Drake earlier this week, and he should see the bulk of the carries, but he doesn't look like he will be the difference maker that Edmonds or Johnson could be.
The pressure will be on Murray and up against a fearsome 49ers offence, he could well struggle. He didn't throw for a single touchdown and was sacked three times and that number could well go up on Thursday. The Niners are getting to the quarterback on an incredible 11.79% of plays. I expect the Cardinals to really struggle in this one up against the strongest team in the NFC right now.
I really think the 49ers will once again dominate their opponent. The Cardinals don't look like they have any hope of slowing them down and against this San Francisco defence, I can't see how they can put up many points. So my best bet of the week is the Cardinals under 1.5 touchdowns. Honestly, I would be happy backing no touchdowns at all for Arizona but 1.5 gives a little room for error.
The Niners run game is close to unstoppable right now, and any of their four running backs could score at any time. Mostert is carrying a small injury, as is Breida so I like Jeffrey Wilson to score anytime at 15/8 and add to his four so far this year.
San Francisco against the handicap here is the pick; 9.5 points feels too low for two teams with such a gulf in class between them. If you want something a little bigger priced, then 49ers by 21 to 30 points at 9/2 is very tempting.