Under the tutelage of new head coach and 2012 Coach of the Year Bruce Arians the Arizona Cardinals have dramatically improved upon last season’s team. They began this year with a new quarterback under center, Carson Palmer, who has led them to a solid 3-2 start after beating Carolina 22-6 last week. He’ll have a much more difficult matchup this week as the Cardinals travel to Candlestick Park to face the 49ers.
Palmer will need to take care of the football this week if he is going to get the Cardinals first victory in San Francisco since the days of Kurt Warner. The 49ers are playing much better football after getting off to a rocky start and now sit at 3-2, tied for second in the division (with the Cardinals.) The catalyst for the 49ers run to the Super Bowl was Colin Kaepernick who has yet to make the same kind of impact as last season, much to the chagrin of the 49ers faithful. He is playing without Michael Crabtree and Mario Manningham, so it’s easy to see why the passing game has floundered at times. As a result, the 49ers have relied heavily on the run game.
The key to this game will be the battle in the trenches as the 49ers enter the game with the 6th best rushing attack and will be facing the 3rd best rushing defense in the league. Fans of grind-em-out, smashmouth football are in luck as this week’s matchup between the 49ers and Cardinals is the cheapest game of the season with a get in price of $67 and an average ticket price of only $156, down $106 from the average this season for 49ers tickets at Candlestick Park. The winner will have sole possession of second place, or potentially a tie for first place if the Seahawks stumble at home against Tennessee.