Cards Fall 49ers Way

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The Cardinals came out flying this season with their 4-0 start the franchise best in the past 38 years. Fast forward to Week 8 and it has been all downhill from there. Arizona is now 4-3 with backup quarterback John Skelton operating in place of the injured Kevin Kolb, and an offensive line which has allowed a league-worst 35 sacks, including seven last week against the Vikings.

A loss against NFC West rival San Francisco on Tuesday morning (AEST) would leave the Cards two games behind the 49ers in the race for the division title. The Niners have won 10 of their past 12 against division foes, and they come in to the game on the back of a grinding 13-6 win over another NFC West team, Seattle.

Running back Frank Gore was particularly impressive last week running for a season-high 131 yards, while adding another 51 yards thanks to five receptions. He revels in taking on the Cardinals having averaged 113 yards per game and 11 touchdowns in 11 career starts against Arizona. With QB Alex Smith continuing to improve and on track for a Pro Bowl appearance, the Niners’ offence may be getting somewhere towards the lofty heights its top-ranked defence reaches on a weekly basis.

Arizona has gone from averaging almost 23 points per game at the start of the season to posting just 33 across their three-game losing streak. There were promising signs last week against the Vikes with LaRod Stephens-Howling running for a career-best 104 yards and a TD out of the backfield. Skelton, began the season as starter, only to lose his position to Kolb when he went down injured in the opening game. With the tables turned, he needs to produce, otherwise the Cards will be staring down a long, hard road to reach the postseason.

The points line for this match is low, but with San Fran giving up just 14.3 points per game and the Cardinals 16.9 a match, this could be a low-scoring affair. 

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