Arizona Cardinals (7-1) at San Francisco 49ers (3-4)
The Cardinals have significant injury uncertainty this week, with their star quarterback Kyler Murray and their top offensive playmaker DeAndre Hopkins both missing practice all week and being considered gametime decisions at best. Normally in situations like this, I like to wait until there is more certainty on the injury situations and often times there won’t even be a line posted, but the 49ers are currently listed as 2-point home favorites against the injury riddled Cardinals and at that number the 49ers are good enough to bet even if both Murray and Hopkins play, assuming both will be going at less than 100% if they can even play.
The 49ers are just 3-4 this season after going 6-10 last season, but their biggest problems in both seasons have been injuries and turnovers. The 49ers had the most adjusted games lost to injury last season and the 2nd worst turnover margin in the league at -11, while this season the 49ers rank 4th worst in turnover margin at -6 and have continued to be as injury plagued as any team in the league, with key absences on both sides of the ball throughout the season.
The good news is that the 49ers are getting healthier, most notably with stud tight end George Kittle set to return this week, and also that turnover margin is very unpredictable week-to-week. Despite the 49ers injury absences, they still rank 6th, 10th, and 14th in schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency respectively, which are much more predictable and predictive than turnover margin, so the 49ers have overall played noticeably better than their record and should be better going forward with key players returning in the past couple weeks. The Cardinals, meanwhile, also are without top interior defender JJ Watt, even if Murray and Hopkins are able to go.
Even if Murray and Hopkins played, I would have the 49ers a point better than the Cardinals in my roster rankings and if they don’t play, we are obviously getting a steal with the 49ers as just 2-point favorites. The 49ers are also in a great spot, as they are favored in the first of two tough games, with favorites covering at a 54.1% rate all-time when facing an opponent with a winning percentage of more than 60%, before facing another such team the following week (in this case, the 49ers’ game against the Rams). Lock this in at -2 (or anything under 3) while you can.
San Francisco 49ers 26 Arizona Cardinals 20
Pick against the spread: San Francisco -2