49ers @ Cardinals: Prediction

The biggest advantage for the 49ers is the Cardinals QB, John Skelton. He struggles mightily in most situations and unfortunately for their team, it is a battle to get the ball to Larry Fitzgerald.

Nothing like having a quality player on offense and not be able to get him the ball. Does that sound familiar?

I don’t think the 49ers will blow out the Cardinals. I don’t think the 49ers are capable of scoring points in massive quantities right now. The big play, throw-it-over-the-top-of-the-defense, quick strike element is lacking. They’ve returned the focus of the offense to running the ball. That actually shortens the game so they will have fewer offensive series.

The Cardinals run defense is vulnerable, as seen last Sunday, but they buckled down and gave up just 58 second-half yards to the Vikings.

You have to like some of their pass defenders, especially Patrick Peterson. His kick return skills provide an additional weapon for the Cards.

Their hyphenated running back, LaRod Stephens-Howling, rushed for 104 yards on 20 carries last week, but the Niners run defense is a little stiffer than the Vikings front-seven. if it copies the Vikings game plan of playing 2-deep to negate Fitzgerald and Doucet.

Remember, too, that the 49er pass rush probably is salivating as they watch Skelton because he is a sack waiting to happen. He likes to throw downfield to Fitzgerald and Early Doucet, but the Vikings took those plays away last week by playing a 2-deep shell for the majority of the game. It will be interesting to see if the 49ers copy the Vikings’ defensive game plan to corral Fitzgerald and Doucet.

The Cardinals will be pressing a bit to end a three-game losing skid. Bottom line, in a quarterback-driven league, they may be lacking at that position to beat the 49ers unless the 49ers gift them some points through turnovers and blunders.

Prediction: The 49ers will win, 20-16.

READER CHALLENGE:

Predict the stats in this game for Alex Smith, Frank Gore, Vernon Davis and Michael Crabtree.

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