The NFL Week 9 schedule opens with an NFC West rivalry on Thursday night when the San Francisco 49ers visit the Arizona Cardinals. Oddsmakers have set the undefeated 49ers as 10-point road favorites.
If you like online sports handicapping, here are some angles and edges to consider when handicapping San Francisco at Arizona.
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The 49ers offense has been a steamroller through their first seven games – all wins, by the way. San Francisco is handing off on 57.5% of its offensive snaps, picking up 4.7 yards per attempt and averaging more than 181 yards on the ground per game.
That relentless rushing game has worn down opponents over the course of 60 minutes, dominating the football for an average of 34 minutes and 31 seconds of possession – second most in the NFL.
We’ve seen opposing defenses snaps in the second half, where the 49ers scoring 17 points per game – another league best. San Francisco takes on an Arizona stop unit that is allowing more than 130 yards rushing to foes while also crumbling for an average of 14 points in the second half – ticking up to 17 points per final 30 minutes over its last three games. Nearly 10 of those points have come in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals ground game limping into Thursday night with running back David Johnson and Chase Edmonds out of action. That hole in the backfield prompted Arizona to trade for former Miami running back Kenyon Drake, who has just a few days to learn this complex Kliff Kingsbury offense.
With that in mind, expect a lot of action from rookie quarterback Kyler Murray. Arizona was already throwing the football on over 62% of its offensive snaps, including almost 78% in Week 8’s loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Murray followed a career game versus Atlanta in Week 6 with two below-average outings versus the New York Giants and Saints. The first-year passer, who has been sacked 27 times already this season, is in the crosshairs of the NFL’s most dominant defense in 2019.
San Francisco is giving up just 128.7 yards passing to opponents – first in the league – limiting rival quarterbacks to a passer rating of just 58.0 with 10 interceptions and 27 sacks on the season.
Fellow rookie Nick Bosa is making a name for himself in the Bay Area, recording seven sacks already this year, including a breakout performance against Carolina in Week 8 in which the first-year lineman notched three sacks, four tackles and one interception in a blowout 51-13 victory at home.
The Over/Under for Thursday Night Football opened at 43 points and has dropped to 42.5. Arizona enters this prime time game with a 4-4 Over/Under record on the season, playing Under the total in back-to-back games.
San Francisco is 2-5 Over/Under on the year – not surprising given its stingy defense and run-heavy playbook. The 49ers and Cardinals have played below the total in four of their last five meeting overall.