Inside the Numbers: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
PHOENIX — The bye week has come and gone, and the Arizona Cardinals have their next task in front of them: beating the 0-8 San Francisco 49ers.
The Cardinals’ game Sunday against the 49ers marks the 53rd all-time meeting between the two teams since 1951, and the 32nd since division realignment in 2002.
San Francisco holds the overall series lead, 29-23, including a 17-14 edge over the last 16 seasons. But thankfully for Arizona, the Cardinals are going up against one of only two winless NFL teams on Sunday.
–This week’s game will be the Cardinals’ second game of three straight against NFC West opponents.
–Arizona has a five-game win streak over the 49ers, including two in a row on the road, the team’s longest in the history of the series.
–Drew Stanton will get the start for Arizona, owning a 6-3 record in games started with the Cardinals since 2014. But the offense has struggled, earning just 18.3 points per game and 292.4 total yards per game this year.
Stanton has 368 passing yards, four touchdowns and no picks for an 88.7 rating in past two starts vs. San Francisco.
Throughout his career, Stanton has been underwhelming under pressure, and has completed just 54-of-147 pressured attempts for just three touchdowns, seven interceptions and a passer rating of just 40.8.
–Running back Adrian Peterson has 902 rushing yards (90.2 per game) and six touchdowns in his past 10 games on the road against the NFC West. He has 99 career rushing touchdowns and needs one more to become the ninth player in NFL history with 100 rushing touchdowns.
Since entering the league in 2007, he ranks first with 11,983 rushing yards.
“Feed the beast. It’s like an old stove,” Cardinals offensive coordinator Harold Goodwin said of Peterson. “The more wood you put in it, the hotter it gets. We’ve just got to make sure we feed him the ball so he can get comfortable.”
“I’m all about that,” Peterson said in response.
Arizona needs to get Peterson at least 25 touches. He’s been practicing in pass protection and running routes so they don’t tip their hand when he’s in the game.
–Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald has owned the 49ers. He has 41 catches for 445 yards (89 per game) and five TDs in the last five meetings. In his career, he has 158 receptions, 2,099 receiving yards and 17 touchdown catches against San Francisco, the most against any opponent.
Through eight games, Fitzgerald leads his team in targets (61), receptions (45) and receiving yards (494), and has generated a passer rating of 113.7, good for 12th among the league’s receivers. Rookie cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon will draw the assignment on Fitzgerald.
–Linebacker Chandler Jones ranks third in the NFC with eight sacks. He aims for his fourth game in a row with a sack. He has seven sacks and two forced fumbles in his last six against the NFC West. He also has eight sacks and two forced fumbles in his last six on the road.
Jones will go against starting right tackle Trent Brown, who’s filling in for Joe Staley at left tackle after suffering a broken orbital bone last week in Philadelphia.
–Safety Tyrann Mathieu had 11 tackles and a sack in the last meeting. He has three interceptions and a sack in the last four meetings. The Honey Badger has been up and down this year — Arizona needs more splash and impact plays out of him like he had against the Colts with the interception in overtime to get them into field goal range.
At some point, the Cardinals need to get more playing time for rookie safety and slot cornerback Budda Baker, who is younger and quicker.
-Linebacker Deone Bucannon led the team with 12 tackles and had a pick in Week 7. He aims for his third divisional game in a row on the road with at least 10 tackles.
Bucannon was the only player that showed up in London and has been able to knock the rust off after missing the first month the season. He’s very good against the run and covering tight ends down the field.
–Safety Antoine Bethea had an interception in these two teams’ last meeting. He has an interception in three of his last four games. Bethea has been a bright spot for the Cardinals’ secondary, replacing Tony Jefferson who signed with the Ravens in the offseason. He ranks ninth overall with a grade of 87.5.
–Safety Tyvon Branch leads NFL safeties with 56 tackles. He has 18 tackles and a forced fumble in two career meetings, and you could make a case that he’s the MVP of the defense, based on production. Per Pro Football Focus, he has the fourth overall grade of 89.1.
He took a pay cut in the offseason, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he were on the radar to re-sign for next year.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers pulled off a trade early in the week for Patriots quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo for a second-round pick in 2018. He’s not expected play, but will be active.
–Starting quarterback C.J. Beathard passed for 235 yards and rushed for 30 more with a touchdown in what so far is his only career home start. He also rushed for career-high 40 yards last week.
It has been a rough go for the rookie signal-caller, whose 47.4 overall grade (per PFF) is the second-worst among qualifying quarterbacks on the season. Niners head coach Kyle Shanahan has kept the game plan conservative so far.
–Running back Carlos Hyde has 259 scrimmage yards (86.3 per game) and two rushing touchdowns in his last three appearances at home. He had 114 scrimmage yards (78 rush, 36 receiving) and a rushing touchdown in his only career home meeting against Arizona. He’s aiming his fourth divisional game in row at home with at least scrimmage yards and a rushing touchdown.
–The 49ers defense has produced 133 total quarterback pressures so far this season, the eighth-most among the league’s teams, and has collectively produced pressure on 10.4 percent of their pass-rush snaps.
–Defensive end DeForest Buckner had a sack in these teams’ last meeting. He has three sacks, a forced fumble and a fumble return in his last six versus the division. Since 2016, he is one of only two defensive linemen (Khalil Mack) with 100-plus tackles (112) and more than seven sacks (7.5).
One of the premier interior defensive tackles in the NFL, Buckner is tied for fifth overall with Linval Joseph with a 90.0 overall grade, behind Aaron Donald, Ndamukong Suh, Damon Harrison and Geno Atkins.
The Cardinals’ Alex Boone and A.Q. Shipley will need to contain him, limit his ability to shut down the run game and keep him off the quarterback.
Some stats are courtesy of NFL Media, the Arizona Cardinals and Pro Football Focus.