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NFL Week 14: San Francisco 49ers (10-2) at Arizona Cardinals (5-7)

December 11, 2011

It could be a trap game for the 49ers on Sunday as San Francisco has already clinched the NFC West and thus might be due for a bit of a letdown, while Arizona still has faint hopes of a wild-card spot.

The 49ers are two games behind undefeated Green Bay for the conference’s top seed and one ahead of New

Arizona Cardinals Football

Beanie Wells RB Arizona

Orleans for the NFC’s other first-round bye. San Francisco hasn’t earned one since 1997. Star linebacker Patrick Willis may not play Sunday after injuring his right hamstring against St. Louis. Willis ranks second on the team with 93 tackles and has helped anchor a top-ranked 49ers run defense that is allowing 71.8 yards per game.

Cards QB Kevin Kolb returned last Sunday to throw for 247 yards — 203 in the second half — and hit LaRod Stephens-Howling for a 52-yard touchdown pass in overtime in his first start since getting hurt Oct. 30 in a loss to Baltimore. Arizona is 2-6 with Kolb and 3-1 without him, though coach Ken Whisenhunt believes he gives the Cardinals the best chance to win. Kolb faces a defense which hasn’t allowed more than 20 points in a game since Week 4.

The playoffs may have seemed out of reach following a 1-6 start, but the Cardinals have kept hope alive by going 4-1 since the start of November to move within two games of a wild-card spot.

San Francisco has defeated Arizona in five consecutive meetings, including a 23-7 49ers win on Nov. 20, Arizona’s only loss since October. Alex Smith passed for 267 yards, 2 TDs and no INTs in that game and this week faces the league’s 25th-ranked pass defense.

Third-year Cardinals running back Beanie Wells is averaging 4.6 yards per carry this year and ran for 228 yards two weeks ago against the St Louis Rams. Head coach Ken Whisenhunt is a firm believer in a strong ground game that sets up a downfield passing attack and will want to get Wells untracked early. The 49ers are leading the NFL in run defense as they are holding opponents to 3.5 yards per rushing attempt and will want to limit Wells’ effectiveness. Wells will be seeking some redemption after managing just 33 yards on eight carries in the Cards’ previous loss to the 49ers.


RECORD VS. SPREAD — San Francisco 10-1-1; Arizona 6-5-1

SERIES RECORD — 49ers lead 24-16

LAST MEETING — 49ers beat Cardinals 23-7, Dec. 4, 2011

LAST WEEK — 49ers beat Rams 26-0; Cardinals beat Cowboys 19-13 OT





STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — San Francisco is only team that hasn’t allowed rushing TD this season. The 12-game stretch — 13 counting last season — is longest in league since 1970. … 49ers victory would give them five on the road, their most since 2002. … San Francisco has allowed fewest points in league (13.4 per game). … 49ers lead league with 28 takeaways (12 fumble recoveries, 16 interceptions) and in turnover margin at plus-18. … San Francisco LB Aldon Smith has 9½ sacks, second among rookies behind Denver’s Von Miller (10½). … Dating to last year, QB Alex Smith has thrown for 23 touchdowns with six interceptions in 17 games. This year he has 15 TDs and five interceptions. … Cardinals playing second in their stretch of four of final five at home. … Arizona victory would move Ken Whisenhunt into tie with Don Coryell (1973-77) with most wins for a Cardinals coach at 42. … Last week’s victory was Arizona’s second in OT in its last five games. Both were won by plays of over 50 yards.

Top Sportsbook Reviews (by Grade)

SA Note: Even though Arizona is much better than we thought they would be this year, they still are not very good. With that said they are capable of covering this so either bet the Cards +3.5 or the 49ers on the moneyline. Pick one or the other.

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Sunday, December 11th, 2011 NFL Betting 2011

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