Quietly the Arizona Cardinals are 3-2 after winning two straight, but their most difficult task yet comes against the San Francisco 49ers in Week Six on Sunday.
Arizona has gone 3-9 against the 49ers since 2008, and haven’t won a game at Candlestick Park since then either. They’ll have a chance to snap that streak, and even take over second place in the NFC West with a win.
The Niners have won two straight as well, overthrowing Houston 34-3 last week, and St. Louis the week before that. The Texans victory was the best performance for the San Francisco defense this season, forcing four turnovers including Tramaine Brock’s 18-yard interception return that opened the game.
Head coach Jim Harbaugh had the running game do the heavy lifting the rest of the way. Frank Gore and Anthony Dixon each scored a touchdown, while quarterback Colin Kaepernick only threw 15 times, completing six passes for 113 yards and and a touchdown to tight end Vernon Davis.
The Cardinals have their defense to thank for last week’s 22-6 win over Carolina. They also generated four turnovers with three interceptions, and sacked quarterback Cam Newton seven times while forcing a safety in the third quarter.
Quarterback Carson Palmer struggled with three interceptions, but hit tight end Jim Dray for a seven-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter that squelched any chance of a Panthers comeback.
Michael Floyd made an Arizona-high five catches for 61 yards, and running back Rashard Mendenhall gained his second touchdown of the season.
Ranked 23rd in the leaue with 81 rushing yards a game, the Cardinals might be able to improve the ground attack against a banged up 49ers frontline. Defensive tackle Ray McDonald is questionable with a biceps injury, and Justin Smith is also questionable with a bum shoulder.
However the 49ers could welcome back All-Pro linebacker Patrick Willis, who suffered an injured groin against Indianapolis two weeks ago and missed last week’s win over Houston.
"Last week, I really tried to push it to go and it just wasn't all the way there," Willis said after practice on Wednesday to the San Jose Mercury News. "What I didn't want to do was lie to myself and teammates and not give all of myself. Me and the training staff felt it was the right approach.
"Yesterday it was better. I'm still feeling it a little bit but it's certainly a lot better than it was."
Coverage of the game starts at 4:25 p.m. ET and will be broadcast by FOX, or watch a live online stream by purchasing NFL Game Access here.
Betting Odds: San Francisco is favored by 11 points.
Over/Under: 41.5 points.
Prediction: San Francisco 20, Arizona 17