Dec 29, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals guard Paul Fanaika (74) against the San Francisco 49ers at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The University of Phoenix Stadium will be a mad house in week three when the hated rival San Francisco 49ers come to town for the first of two regular season match-ups for the Arizona Cardinals, and this one will be a defensive battle from start to finish.
The 49ers ranked number three in rushing offense and number four in rush defense, that alone says exactly what this team is built to do and that is run the football and stop the opponent from doing so as well.
The Cardinals rushing attack was ranked 23 over-all and finished number one in rush defense, stopping Frank Gore has been a task as he has been one of the few backs to rush for significant yardage against the Cardinals defense.
That number one rank rush defense was a unit that featured pro-bowler Daryl Washington and tackle machine Karlos Dansby, the cards come in without either one and will feature a line-backing crew by committee who will start.
It is obvious what this game will look like in the dessert, a battle for the front line and which team can establish the run to open up the passing attack.
The Cardinals will try and gain the advantage with speed on offense, from the backfield with Andre Ellington, stretch the defense with receivers Ted Ginn Jr. and rookie John Brown against a secondary that picked off eight passes last year.
The offensive line will have to be much improved (and it is) to hold off the fabulous pass rush that typically gives every QB issues, the addition of Jared Veldheer will sure up Carson Palmer’s blindside along with the fact the 49ers could be missing pass rusher Aldon Smith in this game as well.
This game will be close and will come down to a late turn-over, the same as it did last year when the Cardinals were in position to get control of the game and reviver Larry Fitzgerald fumbled on a catch in the fourth quarter, which ended their hopes in San Francisco.
This one is hard to predicated, but it will be rather early in the season and hard to see the Cardinals getting past the 49ers just yet, with the absence of two linebackers that made the difference in their number one rush defense ranking gone, it could be a long day for the D-line trying to stop Frank Gore and read option QB Collin Kaepernick.
That will be the difference in the game, Gore will cross the hundred yard mark and Kaepernick will extend plays with his legs and allow the 49ers to get the close three to six point win on the road , and drop the Cardinals to (2-1) on the year going into their early bye in week four.