The San Francisco 49ers are the darlings of the NFL. Seven straight wins, a stout defensive front and a quarterback on redemption road will do that. The Arizona Cardinals will be significant underdogs when they head to Candlestick Park on Sunday. Riding in on a two-game win streak, they may be more up to the challenge than anyone realizes, however.
The Cards took down the Philadelphia Eagles last week, spurred by a solid performance from John Skelton under center in place of the injured Kevin Kolb. Skelton threw for 315 yards and three touchdowns (and two interceptions) in the 21-17 win, finding Larry Fitzgerald seven times for 146 yards and two touchdowns. Skelton is expected to start this week, with Kolb still struggling to recover from turf toe. Skelton will have to be even more efficient than 21-for-40 against the 49ers, however, facing a front seven that ranks first in the league against the run giving up just 73.2 yards per game.
The Niners run game has been clicking behind a healthy (finally) Frank Gore all season, averaging better than 130 yards per game. Alex Smith has felt less pressure in the passing game as a result. While 1,709 yards passing doesn't exactly jump off the stat sheet this far into the season, he has been surprisingly efficient, completing 64 percent of his passes for 11 touchdowns to just three interceptions.
Game Date/Time: Sunday, November 20; 4:05 pm ET
Location: Candlestick Park, San Francisco, CA
TV Distribution Map: The506.com
Cardinals: KTAR 620AM
49ers: KNBR, BONE