Big Red Blog: Must-win game for Cardinals

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The Cardinals will host San Francisco on Monday night, in what's turned into a must-win game. Can Arizona pull off the upset? Find out inside.

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Must-win game for Cardinals

Posted by Brad Wilbricht
Thursday, October 25 - 9:15 AM

The Cardinals have come upon hard times, losing three consecutive outings. This week doesn't get any easier as San Francisco heads to the desert for a showdown on Monday night with the winner taking over first place in the NFC West.

After getting throttled by the Giants two weeks ago, the 49ers rebounded with a win against Seattle. It wasn't pretty but San Francisco managed to overcome a 6-3 halftime deficit mainly on the legs of RB Frank Gore and a stifling defense.

Meanwhile, Arizona fell on the road in Minnesota but actually dominated the stat sheet. The Cardinals outgained the Vikings 356-209 in total yardage, had a 21-12 advantage in first downs and held the ball for over 35 minutes of the game.

The Cardinals will need an even better performance to knock of the 49ers this week. Arizona should benefit from a raucous crowd on Monday night in what's shaping up to be a make-or-break game for the Cardinals. A loss would drop them two games back in the division with a difficult portion of the schedule on the horizon.

Goal number one for Arizona will be stopping the run. San Francisco comes in with the NFL's second-ranked rushing attack that's racking up 177 yards per game. The Cardinals have been average defending the run ranking 20th in the league allowing 121 yards per contest. Look for Arizona to stack the box against Gore and company, forcing QB Alex Smith to make plays down the field.

Speaking of Smith, after supposedly shedding the label as a ‘game manager' that's exactly what he's been this year. The 49ers' passing offense has been pedestrian at best ranking 29th in the league tallying 200 yards per game. This also happens to be an area where the Cardinals defense has excelled, ranking fourth in the NFL allowing only 191 yards per game through the air.

Stats aside, Arizona will need to maximize its intangibles to secure the victory on Monday night. After returning from injury, QB John Skelton has a game under his belt and has led the team to improbable wins in the past. Skelton needs to get WR Larry Fitzgerald involved early and often in order to open up some running lanes against a stout 49ers front seven.

Defensively and on special teams, the Cardinals have been solid all season but the game-changing plays have come to a halt of late. Look for the defense to make a big play or two and it's only a matter of time before CB Patrick Peterson gets things going again in the return game. Both of these areas will be an emphasis as Arizona desperately needs a win to snap a three-game losing streak.

With their next two games on the road against Green Bay and Atlanta (with the bye week in-between), look for the Cardinals to throw everything and the kitchen sink at the 49ers. In what truly qualifies as a must-win game, Arizona will find a way to pull the upset on Monday night.

Prediction: Arizona 23 San Francisco 17

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Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

Follow AZRedReport on Twitter

Questions or comments? Contact Brad Wilbricht at

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