The NFL’s opening Sunday kicks off on September 13. Thirteen games will be up on the board throughout the day. One of these games will be a matchup between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers. These two teams are looking to earn a big divisional win to open up the season. This game will kick off at around 4:25 PM Eastern time.
The Cardinals finished out the 2019 campaign with a record of 5-10-1, which had them finish in fourth place of the NFC West. While this seemed like a horrible season for Arizona, it was an improvement on the 2018 season, which saw the Cardinals end at 3-13. Arizona made some big moves throughout the offseason, which could pay off in Week 1 of this season.
San Francisco earned a record of 13-3 throughout last season, which saw them earn the top spot in the NFC West. The 49ers went on a strong playoff run, knocking off the Minnesota Vikings and the Green Bay Packers to reach the Super Bowl. San Francisco lost in the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs though to end the season.
These two teams saw improvements last season, but the 49ers have big expectations this season after winning the NFC only a season ago. Arizona had one of the best off-seasons, which they will look for to turn into a successful 2020 season. The Cardinals will look to make a statement in Week 1 as they knock off the 49ers on the road.
The first meeting of the season between these two teams was in Arizona in Week 9. Kenyan Drake got a rushing touchdown for the Cardinals, but Jimmy Garoppolo threw three straight passing touchdowns to give the 49ers the lead. Kyler Murray led a solid comeback, but it was not enough as San Francisco finished off Arizona with a 28-25 win at home.
These two teams met up again in Week 11 in San Francisco last season. Kyler Murray threw two touchdowns early as the Cardinals took a 16-0 lead. Jimmy Garoppolo threw four more touchdowns though as the 49ers came back. San Francisco dominated this game after falling behind to win 36-26 to sweep Arizona in the season series.
Jimmy Garoppolo dominated Arizona last season, throwing for 741 yards in two games. He also threw for 8 touchdowns against 2 interceptions against the Cardinals. Arizona had a prime chance to pull off the upset in the second game of the season series, but still could not pull it off. Look for the Cardinals to clean up their game this time around as they try and pull off the upset.
Kyler Murray is entering his sophomore season in the NFL, which will look to improve upon a solid rookie year. Murray finished out last season with 3722 yards in the air. He threw for 20 touchdowns and 12 interceptions on the season. Murray also ran for 544 yards and 4 touchdowns to help lead the Cardinals offense.
Jimmy Garoppolo had a strong season with the 49ers last season to help lead them to the Super Bowl. Garoppolo finished out the regular season with 3978 yards in the air and 27 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. Garoppolo will look to stay healthy this season as he tries to repeat San Francisco’s strong run to the Super Bowl.
These two teams have strong starting Quarterbacks coming into Week 1 of this season. Garoppolo had a strong running game last season to help take some pressure off of him. The Cardinals did a good job adding some weapons to Murray’s arsenal for his sophomore season. If Murray can take a step in the right direction this season, it could help lead Arizona to a strong season in a tough division.
Offseason Additions and Losses
The Cardinals made arguably the best move of the offseason in trading for DeAndre Hopkins. Hopkins caught 104 passes last season for 1165 yards and 7 touchdowns. Hopkins now becomes a premier receiver for the young QB. Arizona also picked up Isaiah Simmons in the draft, who can become a huge player on the Cardinals defense.
San Francisco had a solid offseason setting up their team to make another potential run. The 49ers lost three big players in wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders, defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and left tackle Joe Staley. The 49ers drafted Brandon Aiyuk and Javon Kinlaw to help fix some holes. San Francisco also traded for Trent Williams on the offensive line. The 49ers also lost running back Matt Breida.
Arizona did a great job adding weapons on both sides of the ball to set up Kyler Murray for success in his second season. The 49ers lost some players, but replaced them in the draft or free agency. The biggest question though will be if Brandon Aiyuk can fill in as a top receiver. San Francisco needs someone to step up in that spot if they want their offense to take that next leap.
These two teams are coming into the new NFL season with solid rosters. San Francisco is looking to repeat their run to the NFC Championship on Sunday afternoon though. I do not expect the Cardinals to let them have it nicely. The 49ers will be missing Deebo Samuel, which can help a rough Arizona defense. If the Cardinals new look offense steps up, I expect this one to be a tightly contested matchup.
BetOnline has San Francisco listed as a -7 against the spread coming into Week 1. This gives a big advantage to the 49ers. San Francisco will have no fans in the stands for this one, which will take away some of home field advantage. Both teams are coming in with no preseason, which could make the game a rough one, which I think will at least keep it close.