The San Francisco 49ers are playing out a disappointing string at this point, having lost three in a row and six of their last seven, as opposing teams have largely figured out how to deal with Nick Mullens at quarterback – especially now that he has thrown picks in six straight games – and have taken advantage of the legion injuries on the 49ers’ defense.

That lone win over this stretch came in Los Angeles against the Rams, though, and the team’s visit to Arizona could throw a wrench in the Cardinals’ plans to snag a wild card. Arizona had lost three in a row before getting two games against NFC East opponents, and they rolled over the Giants and held off the Eagles in their last two games.

Which team will prevail in the desert? Check out our thoughts on this NFC West showdown.

San Francisco 49ers at Arizona Cardinals (Saturday, December 26)

When: Saturday, December 26, 2020, 4:30 pm ET

Where: State Farm Stadium, Glendale, AZ

TV: Amazon Prime Video

Radio: Westwood One

JAZZ Sports Odds: Cardinals -4 / Total 49

Why the 49ers Will Win

It will be interesting to see if Kyle Shanahan starts Nick Mullens or C.J. Beathard at quarterback this week. Mullens has thrown a dozen touchdown passes and a dozen picks in relief of the injured Jimmy Garoppolo, and Beathard came on late to throw a Hail Mary touchdown at the end of last week’s loss in Dallas. The 49ers’ rushing game has put up 112.6 yards per game, led by Raheem Mostert who has 521 yards on the season in limited action due to injury.

The 49ers’ defense has been stingy at times but overwhelmed at times, averaging 25.1 points permitted per game, but they also gave up 41 points against a Dallas team that has a Swiss-cheese offensive line this season. Kerry Hyder Jr leads the team in sacks with 7 ½, in the absence of Nick Bosa. San Francisco has only covered once in their last seven games and has failed to cover in six straight games against the Cardinals.

Why the Cardinals Will Win

The Cardinals are just 3-3 in their last six home games, but Kyler Murray seems to learn more about the quarterback position each week. He has a 26:11 TD:INT ratio, with seven touchdown passes in his last three contests. Ageless Larry Fitzgerald has 48 catches on the year, and DeAndre Hopkins continues to show why the Cardinals brought him in to give Murray an elite target. On the ground, Kenyan Drake has fought through injuries to lead the team with 874 yards and nine touchdowns, as the Cardinals run for 147.8 yards per game.

On defense, Arizona permits 23.5 points per game. Haason Reddick leads the way with 11 sacks, and Patrick Peterson is having a throwback season, leading the Cardinals with three picks. Arizona has won 8 of their last 10 games against San Francisco straight up and won the first meeting this season, back in Week 1. The Cardinals have won their last two games by a combined 26 points and should be able to take the 49ers to the woodshed.

The Final Word

Kyle Shanahan has done the best he can given the injuries that have come down, but the Cardinals have the scheme and the personnel to win this game. I like Arizona to win this game easily.

Other Predictions:

New York Giants @ Baltimore Ravens
The Giants blew an opportunity to take command of the NFC East, but the division is so bad that at 5-9 there is still hope. New York would have to upset the Ravens in Baltimore though to keep the dream alive. That seems like a stretch considering New York has scored a combined 13 points in its last two games. The Ravens at 9-5 are still on the outside looking in as they sit in eighth place in the AFC. A win on Sunday keeps their wild card hopes alive… BALTIMORE 35, N.Y. GIANTS 14

Cincinnati Bengals @ Houston Texans
Cincinnati and Houston will be playing for one thing on Sunday – draft position. Both teams have had disappointing seasons. The Texans fumbled away two chances to beat the Colts in the past three games and were blown out by the Bears. Cincinnati has averaged just over 10 points a game since QB Joe Burrow went down with a knee injury. The better quarterback – Houston’s Deshaun Watson – wins this one… HOUSTON 25, CINCINNATI 20

Denver Broncos @ Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers have somehow won two in a row. They lost their first meeting to Denver in dramatic fashion on a last-second Broncos touchdown pass. L.A.’s defense is still suspect, but QB Justin Herbert is on a mission to break the record for touchdown passes by a rookie (27). The Broncos have lost three of their last four, but those losses were to Kansas City, New Orleans, and Buffalo. The better competition makes the Broncos better… DENVER 18, L.A. CHARGERS 16

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