(By: Daisy Barringer)
First and foremost: CONGRATULATIONS TO THE WORLD SERIES CHAMPION GIANTS! Unbelievable. Just: unbelievable. Are we the luckiest town in the whole wide world or what? And you know what would make it even better? That’s right: If the 49ers won the Super Bowl in February (knock on wood!). But in order to get to the Super Bowl, first we need to keep winning games. Starting with the Arizona Cardinals tonight. A game that I feel like between Giants’ hangovers and massive hurricanes no one is going to watch.
Except me, of course. And YOU. Because if you love the Niners enough to read my previews, then you love the Niners enough to push through that pounding headache and turn on the TV. Plus, it’s just a hangover. Nothing a few beers can’t cure. Trust me. I'm a professional.
So what do we have to look forward to tonight? Well, let’s start with:
The Cardinals started 4-0 and everyone was like, “Ohmygod, THE CARDINALS are sooooo good.” Then they dropped their last three. Suckas.
The Cardinals offense is 31st in the NFL. That’s the second worst for those of you who struggle with math. Pair that against our defense? I’m literally giddy with excitement.
Arizona’s offensive line is abysmal. And you know what that means? SACKS! MY FAVORITE! (Seriously, I love a sack. It just feels so good all the way down to my bones.) They’ve allowed 29 sacks in the past four games. Sooooo exciting.
Arizona has 17 players on their injury report. SEVENTEEN. QB Kevin Kolb is out, which means John Skelton will start. Despite the fact that Skelton managed to beat us last year, I am still placing this in the “good” category. (The Niners have six, which includes Joe Staley, Alex Smith, Mario Manningham, Frank Gore, and Andy Lee. I expect all of those guys to start.)
Frank Gore (bruised ribs) claims he’s feeling better. This is crucial because first and foremost the 49ers need to run the ball, dominate the clock, and control the momentum.
Alex Smith also said the sprained finger on his throwing hand benefited from the time off.
The Niners have had 11 days of rest. The Cardinals played last Sunday. Unlike in baseball where rest totally screwed the Tigers (GIANTS!!!!), the Niners can only benefit from that time off. (Unless they get complacent in which case, I will cut a bitch.)
Alex Smith has had a couple of rough games. I don’t think this is a sign of things to come by any means (as I’ve expressed, I blame the constant back and forth with Kaepernick), but it’s something to keep an eye on, of course. If he can avoid interceptions, I think we’ll be fine.
The Cardinals are pretty tough on defense. I’m not going to bore you with a whole “That means the Niners need to score first” analysis because when DOESN’T the team who wants to win need to score first. I hate when people use that reasoning.
Larry Fitzgerald. This guy is just still really, really good. And I definitely worry about him against our secondary.
Our Special Teams is just not the same this year. We can’t struggle in punt-return coverage like we have been and Akers needs to make his field goal attempts.
The Rest of It
The Cardinals are 4-3. The 49ers are 5-2. If Arizona somehow manages to win this game, we’ll be tied for first in the NFC West and they’ll hold the tiebreaker edge.
The Cardinals really don’t like us. Defensive end Calais Campbell said this week that he “hates the 49ers with a passion.” Alex Smith replied with “Hate is a strong word,” and I think my mother would agree with him since we were forbidden from using it growing up. (Not that it stopped me, of course.) A lot has been written about Campbell’s words this week with Anthony Davis taking a few jabs at him on Twitter.
Wonder how much energy it takes to hate someone/something 'with a passion'.. lol poor guy— Bam Davis(@BamDavis76) October 23, 2012
One can’t help but wonder if Campbell’s animosity might end up hurting him in the game. After all, now he has the pressure to live up to all of that talk. And the Niners? Well, according to Delanie Walker, they just don’t care. “They get hyped to play us. They talk over Twitter, say bad stuff about us in the media. We look at it and laugh and just get ready to play football.”
Alex Smith should try to get the ball to Vernon Davis. Davis was totally minimized by the Giants and the Seahawks (he wasn’t targeted once against Seattle). If we can’t get the ball to Davis, then we’ve got to exploit their lopsided coverage.
Fact is: this is a big game. We’ve only had one division game thus far and we need to come out of this with a win. Do I think that’s possible? Absolutely. Now let’s do this.
Oh, and just one more time because it feels so good: GIANTS!!!!!!!!
Watch the San Francisco 49ers at the Arizona Cardinals tonight at 5:30 p.m. on ESPN / CBS5.