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Week 1 Preview: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers

Week 1 Preview for the Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers game
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On Sunday afternoon the San Francisco 49ers will take to the field for the first time since losing to the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LIV when they face the Arizona Cardinals. The 49ers had a phenomenal 2019 season with a 13-3 record and winning the NFC West to advance to the Super Bowl. San Francisco leads the all-time series 31-26 and has won the last two matchups between the teams, including the last meeting in San Francisco last November.

Arizona Cardinals

Arizona finished the 2019 season with a dismal 5-10-1 season which was an improvement from their 3-13 season in 2018. The Cardinals received the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft as a result of their poor performing season and drafted Isaiah Simmons, the linebacker from Clemson along with Josh Jones, Leki Fotu, Rashard Lawrence, Evan Weaver, and Eno Benjamin.

Defense

Simmons joins Kenyan Drake who had 814 scrimmage yards and eight rushing touchdowns with the Cardinals last year, including 242 scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown versus San Francisco.

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Chandler Jones was ranked second in 2019 with 19 sacks and recorded his fifth consecutive season with 11 or more sacks and leads the league with 96 sacks and 27 forced fumbles.

Also coming in strong in 2019 was Jordan Hicks who ranked third with 150 tackles for the season and Patrick Peterson who posted 25 interceptions.

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Offense

 Kyler Murray joined Cam Newton as the only rookie quarterbacks to post more than 3500 passing yards and more than 500 rushing yards. Murray recorded 349 of 542 attempts for 3722 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions for an 87.4 percent passer rating.

Larry Fitzgerald ranks second place in NFL history in catches and receiving yards, with 1,378 and 17,083 respectively, and is sixth in receiving touchdowns with 20. 

Wide receiver, Deandre Hopkins, joins Fitzgerald on the Cardinals offensive line, traded to Arizona from Houston.  Since 2013 Hopkins has posted 54 receiving touchdowns which is second place in the league and third in receptions with 632 and receiving yards with 8,602.  Hopkins was also the second-youngest receiver to post 600 receptions and the third youngest with 8000 receiving yards and is one of only three receivers to post 30 or more games with 100 or more receiving yards (Antonio Brown and Julio Jones).

San Francisco 49ers

The 49ers used the 2020 NFL Draft to add more depth to the offensive line with the exception of their first pick, the 14th pick overall, in which they drafted Javon Kinlaw, the defensive tackle from South Carolina.  They also drafted Brandon Aiyuk, Charlie Woerner, and Jauan Jennings.

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Defense

In the 2019 season, the 49ers averaged 281.8 defensive yards per game with Arik Amstead leading the team with ten sacks and Richard Sherman led with three interceptions.  Armstead also set career-high records with his sacks and 11 tackles for loss, while Fred Warned led the team with 118 tackles, which was his second season in a row with more than 100 tackles.

Nick Bosa had an impressive rookie season and ranked third among rookies last year with nine sacks and he tied for fifth place in the league with 16 tackles for loss.  He also became the third rookie with four or more sacks in a single postseason.

Offense

Offensively, the 49ers posted an average of 381.1 yards per game last season. Raheem Mostert had 952 scrimmage yards and ten total touchdowns in the 2019 regular season and became the sixth player in NFL history to record more than 300 rush yards and five or more rushing touchdowns in a single postseason.

Quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo posted 329 of 476 completions for 3978 yards, 27 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions for a rating of 102.  That was the most pass yards by a San Francisco quarterback since 2000 when Jeff Garcia posted 4,278 yards.  Garoppolo also joined Hall of Famers Joe Montana and Steve Young as the only franchise quarterbacks with a rating of more than 100 since 1950. 

In the last three seasons, George Kittle has 216 receptions and 2,945 receiving yards, both are the most by a tight end during their first three years in the league.  He posted 85 receptions for 1053 yards and five touchdowns last season.  Deebo Samuel ranked fourth among rookies in catches and receiving yards in his first professional season.  Kendrick Bourne recorded a receiving touchdown in both games against Arizona last year and is aiming for his third in a row this week.

Game Info

Sunday, September 13, 2020

1:25 PM PST 

Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Cali.

TV: FOX

Betting Odds

Point Spread: ARI +7, -110, SF -7, -110

Over/Under: 48 

Moneyline:  ARI +255, SF -315

Both of the teams have a strong defense, and the game should be low scoring.  I would take the under on the points total.

Prediction

San Francisco will be looking for redemption this year after advancing to the Super Bowl for the first time in eight years and came up short of the victory while Arizona will be looking for redemption after having two losing seasons back to back.  The 49ers defense will be prepared to play against Hopkins and the rest of the Arizona offensive line and should dominate over the Cardinals defensive line.

Final Score: Arizona 10, San Francisco 31

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Follow Celeste Sabin on Twitter @CelesteSabin

Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images

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