Arizona Cardinals (3-4) at San Francisco 49ers (0-8)
The 49ers entered the season with among the worst rosters in the NFL and things have just gotten worse from there thanks to injuries. The 49ers are currently without left tackle Joe Staley, #1 wide receiver Pierre Garcon, defensive ends Solomon Thomas, Aaron Lynch, Arik Armstead, and Tank Carradine, and safety Jimmie Ward, all of whom were valuable players for this team. I have the 49ers currently dead last in my roster rankings.
That being said, we are still getting line value with them as 2.5 point home underdogs against the Cardinals because the Cardinals also enter with significant injury problems and one of the worst rosters in the NFL. The Cardinals have lost left guard Mike Iupati, running back David Johnson, outside linebacker Markus Golden, and most importantly quarterback Carson Palmer to injured reserve. Palmer was not playing at an elite level or anything, but he wasn’t playing badly either and backup Drew Stanton is among the worst backups in the league. They shouldn’t be favored by this many points no matter the opponent, given the current state of their roster.
The 49ers have been blown out in each of the past two weeks against the Cowboys and Eagles, losing both games by 21+ points, but they have a great chance to bounce back against a much easier opponent this week. Teams tend to cover off of back-to-back losses by 21+ points, going 45-30 ATS in that spot since 2002. It’s counterintuitive, but it makes sense, as teams coming off back-to-back blowouts tend to be overlooked, underrated, and embarrassed. The 49ers should be some combination of those this week.
The Cardinals, meanwhile, are in a terrible spot because they have to turn around and host the Seahawks in one of their toughest games of the season. Favorites are just 60-92 ATS since 2008 before Thursday Night Football and that’s before you even take into account how big of a game it’s going to be for the Cardinals. The early line has them as 7 point home underdogs and teams are 30-70 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs of 6 points or more, as big upcoming home games tend to present a distraction for teams.
On top of that, road favorites like the Cardinals are here are 17-36 ATS since 2012 before being home underdogs. With a much tougher game 4 days after this one, the Cardinals could easily look past the 49ers and lose this game as a result. The difference in talent level between these two teams is less than you’d think right now. I’m holding out hope that this line creeps up to 3 before game time, in which case this would become a high confidence pick, but I’d bet the 49ers at 2.5 regardless and I’d also take the money line at +125.
San Francisco 49ers 16 Arizona Cardinals 13 Upset Pick +125
Pick against the spread: San Francisco +2.5