Thursday Night Football – Week 5 – Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers – Free Preview and Betting Prediction
This week’s Thursday Night contest probably isn’t going to be appealing to most fans looking for a high-scoring primetime matchup. However, it’s critical for both teams to get back in the win column, as both are potentially falling out of contention, both in their conference and division.
The odds opened with the Cardinals as -2.5 favorites at the 49ers. Those odds moved to -4 after about 75 percent of wagers came in on Arizona. The current odds at BetOnline.ag are Arizona -3.5 (-110) and San Francisco +3.5 (-110).
The total opened at 43 points. Betting action favors the under, with about 60 percent of bettors hoping this game ends with 43 points. At most sportsbooks, the total is at 43.5 or 43 points.
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The Cardinals – Carson Palmer’s Health
After nearly reaching the Super Bowl last season and having high expectations coming into this year when it comes to winning a championship – Arizona must be shell-shocked. They now have a 1-3 record after four weeks, and their chances at the division and playoffs are both fading.
After losing at Buffalo in Week 3, this looked like a bounce-back spot for the Cardinals who faced the visiting Rams. Arizona outgained the Rams 420-288 in terms of yardage but turned the ball over five times. They ultimately lost by a final score of 17-13.
Carson Palmer didn’t have his best game but did manage to throw two touchdowns before having to leave the game in the fourth quarter after Aaron Donald sacked him. He entered the NFL’s concussion protocol after the hit.
Palmer will race against the clock to be cleared by the NFL’s concussion protocol on a short week. It seems unlikely that he will be able to suit up Thursday, but there’s still a chance he gets cleared in time. He did not practice on Wednesday.
Most likely, though, we will see quarterback Drew Stanton under center for Arizona. Stanton is a veteran backup who has been in the league since 2008. He has been in the Cardinals system for three seasons. He was intercepted twice in the final minutes of last week’s game, which included a Hail Mary pass on the final play.
Arizona also lost two other players for quite some time. Backup running back Chris Johnson will undergo sports hernia surgery and has been placed on injured reserve. Safety Tyvon Branch is going through the same surgery.
The 49ers – Chip Needs to Turn Team Around
The Chip Kelly era in San Francisco started off with a bang. They won dominated the L.A. Rams in Week 1, winning by a score of 28-0. It’s all been downhill from there.
The 49ers have lost three straight, including last week’s 24-17 defeat against the visiting Dallas Cowboys to drop their record to 1-3. SF got out to 14-0 lead, but score just threw points in the second half.
Quarterback continues to be a troubled spot for San Francisco. Blaine Gabbert started off hot but did little after the first few drives. He ended with a poor 196 yards with one touchdown and an interception line.
Colin Kaepernick who has not played this season due to being benched in favor of Gabbert has been in the news for his National Anthem protests. Kaepernick will likely see starts by the end of the season. A recent report stated that his teammates want him to take over as the starter.
San Francisco also lost All-Pro linebacker NaVorro Bowman last week to a season-ending Achilles injury. His loss will be a big blow to the defense, but in the short term, it may inspire some extra motivations from his teammates.
I can see why most of the bets are coming in on Arizona. Carson Palmer isn’t likely to play, and that’s reflected in the odds, but most bettors still see this team as one with plenty of talent. They’re right, but this isn’t the best spot for Cardinals for a number of reasons.
Most importantly, is that Drew Stanton just isn’t very good. He started a few games in relief of Palmer throughout his tenure in Arizona and has performed poorly. Even with some talented skill players on offense, it’s hard to get behind a team with Stanton leading the offense.
The 49ers also play much better at home, particularly defensively. This is a divisional game. There’s not exactly bad blood between these two teams, but San Francisco needs this game just as much as the Cardinals. I’m sure they’re chomping at the bit to upset an Arizona team without Carson Palmer.
Pick: 49ers +3.5