49ers vs. Cardinals: Mismatch of the Week, SF d-line vs. ARI o-line

Kyle Terada-US PRESSWIRE

We breakdown the Mismatch of the Week when the San Francisco 49ers go on the road to face the Arizona Cardinals.

In Week 8, Monday Night Football kicks off from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Arizona. The Cardinals will host the 49ers in an NFC West division bout, where first place will be on the line.

The Niners are heading into their bye week following this match-up, and would like to do so on a high note. They're 2-1 in their last three games, while the Cards are 0-3 in theirs. Arizona started off the season hot with four straight wins, but have dropped three since.

They've been banged up offensively, and are near the bottom in several major offensive categories, including total offense.

The first thing you're likely to notice about the Cardinals is their porous offensive line. It is the league's bottom-ranked unit, and has been the teams Achilles this season. Arizona's offensive line has allowed 35 sacks and 53 QB hits, which are both league-highs.

In the past four games, in which they've gone 1-3, the offensive line has allowed 29 sacks. Over the course of the season, Cards two starting offensive tackles have allowed 22 of 35 total sacks this season.

So, we know they're susceptible to edge pressure and probably don't handle even the simplest of blitzes all that well, judging by the alarming numbers mentioned earlier.

In this writer's eyes, and the eyes of 49ers fans all over the world, the Cardinals will be at a tremendous disadvantage when faced with San Francisco's defense. And the front seven in particular, which is a fierce group of players that work very well together.

Looking at where the sacks have come from against Arizona, one has to think the edge rush with Aldon Smith and Ahmad Brooks would be particularly effective come Monday night. Both of them are due for big games, especially the young sensation, No. 99.

Their ability to create pressure and get hits on the quarterback throughout the game will end up being a significant factor. The number of sacks at the end of the day isn't even all that important, but getting consistent pressure is.

San Francisco needs to be aggressive in attacking that front.

Niners' defensive linemen Justin Smith and Ray McDonald will also have major roles in Week 8. They are in a position to win a lot of downs against the Cardinals and truly set the tempo for this game. If they can be dominant in the trenches, it will drastically shift the momentum of this game in favor of San Francisco.

It will be the strength of the 49ers versus the weakness of the Cardinals. This is an enormous mismatch, and one the Niners should take advantage of this week.

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