CARDINALS AT 49ERS
- 2:25 p.m. Sunday
- Levi's Stadium
- Line: Cardinals +2.5 (For more details see BetMGM.com)
The three biggest things to watch for Sunday when the Cardinals play the 49ers at Levi's Stadium:
A Kyler-iffic Inactives Wait
Kyler Murray is going to be a game-day decision on whether he plays, and that felt almost inevitable since the week started. Maybe Murray will be the Cardinals quarterback Sunday, although if he plays, he will not be at 100 percent. Maybe Colt McCoy will be the quarterback, a decade-plus of NFL experience put on the field for plays that matter for the first time this season. We won't know who until the inactives list comes out 90 minutes before kickoff (or until one of the big national reporters tweets it out thanks to someone leaking it.) This is a game that is important, given its NFC West status and because the Packers – with the Cowboys the other one-loss team – are playing without their quarterback, Aaron Rodgers. But only Kyler Murray and Kliff Kingsbury truly know if Murray is indeed capable of playing well enough to make having him be on the field be worth it. And that's what everyone will be waiting to see at 12:55 p.m. Arizona time on Sunday.
Getting Chandler Jones Loose
Chandler Jones has been quiet on the sack front since his five in the opener, and then he missed a couple games with Covid. His first game back, he got Aaron Rodgers making it practically impossible for anyone on the Cardinals' pass rush because the Packers barely threw the ball down the field. The 49ers and Jimmy Garoppolo are certainly capable of the quick-pass game, which would help render Jones and cohorts moot. But this is a big-picture need – the Cardinals need to slow the Niners run game, which they could not do against the Packers. They need to have the 49ers facing third-and-7, and-8, and-9, and let Jones and Markus Golden and Dennis Gardeck loose. In a passing league, the defense still needs to make sure teams pass to do the most defensive damage.
Good Teams Don't Lose Two In A Row
This could be a weird week. If the Cardinals are without Kyler Murray and A.J. Green and DeAndre Hopkins, that's a tough task to go and win a game. Even if Murray and Hopkins play, if they aren't themselves, the degree of difficulty doesn't get a lot better. The 49ers are feeling themselves after a solid win in Chicago. Still, the cliché means something – you can't lose two straight. It doesn't mean the season is over, of course, and that's one of the huge benefits of a 7-0 start. But the Cards have shown themselves to be a tough road team – 4-0 so far – and the statement a win would make this week, regardless of who is at QB, regardless of who is at receiver, would be loud.