The line for the Monday Night Football game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals took a bit of a turn on Monday morning when Colt McCoy was announced the starter in place of Kyler Murray, who continues to deal with a hamstring injury. The line jumped up from -8 to -10 in favor of the 49ers, but the total, which had already dropped from 45 to as low as 42.5 at DraftKings Sportsbook, actually ticked back up slightly to 43.
Here’s what you need to know and some talking points for MNF tonight:
49ers vs. Cardinals Matchup Page
Latest MNF betting splits
Updated NFL odds
Josh Appelbaum’s Monday Night Football Sharp Report
Is McCoy an Upgrade over Murray?
Obviously the betting market doesn’t think so, since the line jumped two points and some of the early-week money that moved the line from -7.5 up to -8 was due to the possibility that Murray would be out. However, McCoy was 26-of-37 for 238 yards with a touchdown and no picks last week against the Rams. Arizona only managed 4.6 yards per play, but they’ve been under five yards per play for the season anyway.
For the season, the Cardinals are 23rd in EPA/play (expected points added) and 23rd in Success Rate on offense. With the Week 11 stats in for the other teams that played, Arizona ranks 27th in yards per play, but 12th in points per game. Murray has a 12/6 TD/INT ratio and has taken 24 sacks in nine games. He’s also only rushed 59 times for 359 yards for a running game that could use a spark.
Under McCoy last week, the Cardinals were a good bit better in EPA/play and Success Rate, despite being worse in yards per play. That was only one data point, so let's see what happens tonight. Depending on the severity of the injury, McCoy could very well be an upgrade over Murray now, but the betting market does believe Murray is at least a couple points better than McCoy.
Does it matter who plays against the 49ers?
The San Francisco defense ranks second in yards per play allowed after the Eagles stymied the Colts yesterday. The 49ers have recorded 29 sacks in their nine games and have a top-10 defense by just about any traditional or advanced metric. The 49ers have allowed the sixth-fewest points per game, fourth-fewest points per drive and have the second-lowest percentage of opponents’ possessions ending in points. They’ve also allowed the fewest red zone attempts by one over the Broncos, but that likely changes tonight.
Will elevation be a factor?
Mexico City trumps the Mile High City in terms of feet above sea level. There is no comparable in the NFL, as Mexico City is around 7,300 feet in elevation and some places are even higher. Interestingly, the Cardinals lead the NFL in plays per drive at 6.8 and the 49ers are just 17th with 6.0 plays per drive. Both teams are about equal in average drive time.
Third down conversion rate will be huge tonight, as the defense that gets off the field should avoid getting worn down. The 49ers are sixth in third down conversion rate, while the Cardinals are 28th. That could be a good live betting angle for this one.
For more on the game, check out the linked best bets from VSiN analysts Adam Burke and Dave Tuley.