LOUIS ROSS (@LouisRoss67) returns with a best bet from Thursday night’s NFL action.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers | 01:25 Friday | Sky Sports 1
Hands up if you had the Cardinals at 1-3 and with the same record as the 49ers after four weeks of the 2016 NFL season? I sure didn’t.
Arizona have now lost as many games in this first month of this year as they did in the whole of the 2015 campaign. This is a game that I do think Arizona can triumph in but the stats do not make for comfortable reading, on either side of the ball.
The loss of Carson Palmer, following injury in last week’s defeat by the less than stellar Los Angeles Rams will not help the cause either.
Cardinals fans must hope that the first job of journeyman back-up Drew Stanton is to ensure they put points on the board in the first 15 minutes. That is something they have failed to do so far this season.
Going up against a defence shorn of its one star names after injury to Navarro Bowman should make that task a little easier. However, Stanton will need his offensive line to afford him more protection than they did Palmer, who suffered 11 sacks through four weeks.
Stanton looked incredibly nervous taking over from the injured quarterback, making just four of 11 passes and chucking a couple of Interceptions along the way.
The good news for Bruce Arians is that redemption comes in the form of a 49ers outfit that may be overachieving at 1-3. After all, Blaine Gabbert is still the man under centre whilst Colin Kaepernick battles poor form, bad publicity and terrible hair.
Gabbert is more than a little short of weapons with his big name receivers being the criminally inconsistent Torrey Smith and Jeremy Kerley. The running game relies almost completely on Carlos Hyde, a guy capable of a 150-yard or 15-yard game. Inconsistency and leaky offensive lines plague both of these outfits.
Arizona at San Francisco is likely to be a niggly, error-strewn game with little to excite.
Sometimes those kind of games have an attraction all of their own. Errors equal points in most cases in the NFL and although I expect a low scoring game, the lines there are quite tight around the 42 mark. I would be looking at something like 23-17 in Arizona’s favour so I will certainly be leaving that alone.
The value here looks to revolve around Arizona and particularly David Johnson. The second year running back has had the kind of start you would expect in any 1-3 team. He certainly has not hit the heights of his rookie year.
However, he leads the entire league in yards from scrimmage and with a nervous Stanton probably easing himself into the game should see an awful lot of action.
San Francisco rank 32 of 32 against the run giving up an average of 140.5 yards per-game. Bet365 offer 20/29 on Over 88.5 Yards. Well, Paddy Power have chalked up evens on a line of just 89.5 and that is too good to turn down.
Arizona is not the team of last year, but they really should have too much for San Francisco here. I am happy to take them on at -4 handicap with Bet365, this time against a generally available -3.5 everywhere else.
Look for Johnson to play a huge part with the ball both rushing and catching. Stanton is capable if he is allowed to settle into the game and with San Fran having an almost non-existent pass rush, he is likely to get that chance.
Fitzgerald, Floyd and Brown is still an elite corps of receivers and if they cannot come away with a good win here then they really are in trouble this season.
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers – David Johnson Over 89.5 Rushing Yards (1/1 Paddy Power)
Arizona Cardinals @ San Francisco 49ers – Arizona Cardinals -4 handicap (1/1 Bet365)