An NFC West showdown features on the NFL betting card in week 3 when the Niners descend on the Cardinals, a game cornered with the hosts. Do the bookies have it right?
San Francisco 49ers (1-1, 0-1 away)
The San Francisco 49ers are coming off a brutal 43-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 2 NFL betting, a week after their stout defense decimated the Minnesota Vikings 20-3 at Levi Stadium. On the heels of week 1’s dominant performance, the Niners still opened as the 6.5-point underdogs to the Steelers. But the game was never that close as the Steelers offense lit up at Heinz Arena, as it often did last season en route to lopsided win, almost cracking the 45-point total by their sole efforts.
The Niners are 1-1 SU and ATS ahead of week 3 NFL betting, but the spanking in week 2 has taken the shine off of them in NFL betting circles. It marked Jim Tomsula’s first loss as the San Francisco head-coach this season and first in three games overall as the head coach (he was an interim coach for one game before).
To be fair, the stats tell a slightly different story. Colin Kaepernick went 33-of-46 for 335 yards and two touchdowns with zero interceptions. He also ran for 51 yards. However, he wasn’t protected enough and, as a result, he was sacked five times. All that makes it somewhat shocking that they only managed a field goal through the first three quarters.
Credit must be given where it’s due: Steelers defense. They played a spectacular game on Sunday, making Ben Roethlisberger’s job on offense that much easier and stress free. He did his part. So let’s not put too much stock into the Niners’ loss at Heinz Arena. By all accounts, the Steelers figure to be one of the toughest teams to beat at home, so perhaps it was just par for the course.
What’s more, they are faced with a divisional rivalry in week 3. Divisional rivalries are a different ball game, typically. Heated, gritty, close gridiron as teams battle for divisional bragging rights and pivotal Ws that could be deciding down the stretch. If they have one thing going for them – some measure of optimism in this matchup – it’s that they are 5-1 SU in the last six meetings with Arizona. Last season, the pair split the series 1-1 with each side winning at home: SF won 20-17 while ARI won 23-14 at home. Prior to that, the Niners had won four straight.
The reality, though, is that the Niners enter this clash as the underdogs on the NFL odds board. And nobody that has followed the last two seasons of the NFL can argue with that market stance.
Arizona Cardinals (2-0 SU, 1-0 home)
The Arizona Cardinals have the look of a playoff contender after two weeks of the NFL season. Granted they’ve faced the hapless Saints at home in week 1 and the questionable Bears in week 2, but take nothing away from them because of the strength of the schedule. The salient facts are that Carson Palmer looks sharp and focused and the Cardinals are playing solid, disciplined football behind coach of the year Bruce Arians.
As it is, the Cardinals are riding roughshod over the NFC West with a 2-0 SU and ATS mark. They’ve outscored opponents 79-to-42 for a plus 37-point differential or an 18.5-point margin of victory. Those aren’t numbers to sniff at.
On balance of just two games, the Cardinals look to be one of the best teams in the NFL. But like we said, it’s just two games into the season and, if last season were any indication, it rests on Carson Palmers remaining healthy.
NFL Betting Verdict
Odds makers send the Niners into the NFC West clash with the Cardinals as the whopping 7-point underdogs (some books are trading on 6.5-points though). It’s easy to understand why the NFL betting line is scaled so high if we consider the two accounts each team deposited in the early goings. However, this is a divisional rivalry and that fact doesn’t look to have been given enough consideration where these two sides are concerned. It could be a lot closer than the NFL odds are suggesting, with bragging rights on the line. Not to mention both looking to stay ahead of the Seahawks in the standings. Arizona could get it done straight up, but Niners could cover. In any event, we’re backing the Niners plus the points with our NFL picks.
NFL Picks: 49ers +7 at 5Dimes