The San Francisco 49ers will look to turn things around in short order this week, as they travel to Glendale to face the Arizona Cardinals. The line opened yesterday afternoon, and the 49ers were installed as 6-point underdogs. The line has moved modestly to 6.5- or 7-points at some sites monitored by OddsShark.com. I don't expect the line to change much at all over the next few days, particularly since Carlos Hyde was cleared following a concussion test.
The Cardinals are off to a very solid start, sitting at 2-0 through two weeks. They beat the Saints 31-19 at home, and then went into Chicago and beat the Bears 48-23. Carson Palmer threw four touchdowns in Week 2, and benefitted in part from a pair of long pass interference penalties. The Bears offense was fairly mediocre, particularly once Jay Cutler got hurt trying to tackle a defender on a pick-six.
The Cardinals were off to a strong start last season as well, before Palmer tore his ACL. The Cardinals went 3-4 after the torn ACL, and could not do much of anything in the playoffs. If Palmer can stay healthy, this team is a dangerous one. And in part because of that, this line is not surprising. Through two weeks, the Cardinals are looking like a better team. With the Seahawks dropping their first two games out of the gate, the Cardinals are in strong shape. They have two home games against the 49ers and Rams, which opens the door for a potential 4-0 start and two quick divisional wins.
The question now is how the 49ers bounce back from an ugly loss on Sunday. I am intrigued if this line climbs up to a touchdown consistently, but for now it is probably safe to stay away from the 49ers for gambling purposes. I could elect to fade them, but we might not full grasp where this team stands through two weeks. Are they more like the team that got throttled by the Steelers? Or are they more like the team that handled the Vikings? It is likely somewhere in between, but the spectrum is a long one.