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49ers-Cardinals preview: Strengths and weaknesses of Arizona’s defense

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The 49ers and Cardinals square off on Sunday, and we chatted with Revenge of the Birds about Arizona’s defense.

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Detroit Lions Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers travel to face the Arizona Cardinals this weekend, marking the final game of their first run through the division. They lost to the Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks by a combined five points, so maybe they can get in the win column for the first time on this third effort.

Earlier this week, we sat down with Revenge of the Birds site manager Seth Cox to talk about the state of the Cardinals heading into this Week 4 matchup. He offered some thoughts on the Cardinals offense, and this morning we move to the other side of the ball. I asked him for some details on the strengths and weaknesses of the defense.

Right now, the strengths are the youth and athleticism. The weakness is the playing in the second half. The Cardinals have played extremely well in the first and second quarters through the first three games, allowing 26 first half points. They have allowed an astounding 60 points in the second half. Including only three points to the Colts. In their two losses, the Lions scored 26 second half points. The Cowboys scored 21. They have been exposed by good teams in the second half of games. The reason? They rely on a bend but don't break style of defense. Oh sure, they'll get some three and outs, but for the most part, they are allowing teams to get yards on them. That results in shifting of field position, then on short fields, teams are able to take advantage.

“They rely on a bend but don't break style of defense.” That sounds familiar!

The 49ers offense got off to a slow start through two and a half games, but then exploded in a big way in the second half against the Rams in Week 3. The key to this game is the 49ers defense getting in Carson Palmer’s face, but the 49ers need to get more consistent on offense. It’d be nice to see the passing game get going, but my guess is this will be all about the run game once again. The Cardinals have defended it well, but I think 49ers offensive success will be there, as opposed to Brian Hoyer challenging that secondary.