Inside the Numbers: Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers
PHOENIX — The Cardinals lost their home opener to the Cowboys, but up next is the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium in their first divisional matchup of the 2017 campaign.
This week’s game between the Cardinals and 49ers is the 52nd all-time meeting between the two teams in a series that dates back to 1951. It also represents the 31st meeting between Arizona and San Francisco since division realignment in 2002.
The 49ers hold a 17-13 advantage in the series, but Arizona has won four straight and five of the last six.
— Quarterback Carson Palmer passed for 325 yards and two touchdowns for a 94.5 quarterback rating last week. In three career home meetings, Palmer is averaging 364.4 pass yards per game.
Through three games, no quarterback has taken more hits (27) than Palmer. When sacked four times or more he’s 1-9-1 with the Cardinals.
For the third time this year, the Cardinals will have their third offensive line combination vs. the 49ers.
— Running back Andre Ellington has scored in two of the last three games when rushing 10 or more times at home against the division.
Although Chris Johnson is slated to start, Ellington will still be a factor, both on the ground and through the air.
— Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald led the team with 13 catches for 149 yards and a touchdown last week. In 13 career home meetings, he has 89 receptions for 1,206 yards (92.8 per game) and eight touchdowns. He also has 14,633 career receiving yards, surpassing Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison (14,580) for the eighth most all-time.
Fitzgerald is getting more opportunities down the field; I’ll take my chances with Fitz on those 50-50 balls, all day.
— Linebacker Chandler Jones has seven sacks & passes deflected in the past five games. He added two sacks in last meeting and in the past four games against divisional opponents has six sacks and two forced forced fumbles.
Jones needs to be more consistent through four quarters. He does show flashes at times but needs more impact plays on defense.
— Linebacker Markus Golden aims for his third game with two sacks against the division. He has 12 tackles and two sacks in past two meetings.
He’s been disruptive creating pressure on the quarterbacks, unfortunately he hasn’t filled out the stat sheet but is close.
— Cornerback Patrick Peterson has three interceptions, including an interception returned for a touchdown, and eight passes deflected, in past three meetings.
Peterson has been excellent to start the season, covering the No. 1 wide receivers with great cover skills. Justin Bethel has been up and down thus far, while the Cardinals have only forced two turnovers on defense. Bethel had a pick-six in Week 1, and Tyrann Mathieu had the interception in overtime vs. the Indianapolis Colts.
— Safety Tyrann Mathieu has three interceptions and 21 tackles. In the last eight home games against divisional foes, he has four interceptions. Beside the interception to secure the win against the Colts, Mathieu hasn’t been as effective playing in the slot and getting to the quarterback, but there is still plenty of time to make an impact this year.
— Safety Tyvon Branch led team with 11 tackles in Week 3. He has 27 tackles (nine per game) in his last three games.
You could make the case he’s been the defense’s MVP through three games, finally healthy after being placed on injured reserve the last two years. Also, Branch took a pay cut to stay in Arizona.
San Francisco 49ers
— Quarterback Brian Hoyer had 332 yards and three scores (2 pass, 1 rush) last week, his 10th career game with 300 or more yards. In his past eight games against the NFC, he has 10 touchdowns and four interceptions for a 90.9 quarterback rating.
Hoyer isn’t a franchise quarterback, but he’s carved out a nice career. He’s very competitive and has the ability to throw the ball down the field with a couple of new weapons on the outside in Pierre Garcon and Marquise Goodwin.
— Running back Carlos Hyde rushed for 84 yards and two scores last week, his 4th career multi-touchdown game. He ranks third in the NFL with 253 rush yards. He has eight touchdowns (seven rush, one rec.) in the past seven games vs. the NFC West. He had 114 scrimmage yards (78 rush, 36 rec.) and a rushing touchdown in the 10/6/16 meeting and aims for his fourth game in row with 75 or more scrimmage yards.
If he can stay healthy he’ll be the bell cow in the 49ers offense for years to come; a dual threat with rushing and receiving skills. Both tackles Joe Staley and Trent Brown are playing well protecting the edges.
— Wide receiver Pierre Garcon had seven catches for 142 yards in Week 3, sixth highest single-game total of his career. He has a receiving touchdown in two of three career games vs. Arizona. Since 2013, he ranks seventh in the NFL with 348 catches.
— Defensive end DeForest Buckner had five tackles and a forced fumble last week. He has sack in one career meeting. Arik Armstead aims for three in row on the road with a sack.
The Niners’ have done a nice drafting three defensive linemen in the first rounds within the last three years. Armstead, Buckner and Solomon Thomas should be a force to be reckoned with over several years.
— Linebacker NaVorro Bowman has 27 tackles (nine per game), a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the past three games vs. Arizona. He Aims for five games in a row with at least seven tackles.
He’s a warrior in the middle of the Niners’ defense, leader and a thumper, but injuries have slowed him down. It’s essential the Cardinals linemen get to the second layer.
— Linebacker Elvis Dumervil has 99 career sacks, 3rd most among active players. He doesn’t get talked about enough and they must put a hat on him at all times.
Some of the numbers are courtesy of NFL Media and the Arizona Cardinals.