Monday Night Football best bet: 49ers vs. Cardinals
The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals take the NFL south of the border to Estadio Azteca in Mexico City for “Monday Night Football” in Week 11. This is the fifth scheduled game in Mexico City, but the 2018 version was canceled because of unplayable field conditions. This will be the first time in the extreme elevation (~7300 feet) for the 49ers and Cardinals, as the Chiefs, Raiders, Texans and Patriots have participated in the other three games.
The 49ers have morphed into a larger favorite as the week has gone along with continued questions about Kyler Murray’s availability for the Cardinals. Here’s what our analysts think about the game.
Odds are from DraftKings (unless noted) as of Sunday night.
Monday, 8:15 p.m. ET
Adam Burke: This is an interesting game because you have two teams that are stark contrasts from a yards per play differential standpoint. San Francisco is +1.2 yards per play, while Arizona is -0.8 yards per play. The line move on this game to take the 49ers out past a touchdown favorite has a lot to do with those metrics and what the expected records and outputs should be for these two teams.
The 49ers came into this week fourth in points per drive allowed with 1.6, while the Cardinals came in allowing the fifth-most points per drive with 2.35. The concerning thing about that for Arizona is that 14 takeaways in 10 games haven’t done anything other than keep this defense afloat. The 49ers have bunched their turnovers together with three in a game three separate times, so as long as they avoid one of those games, they should be in good shape here.
However, rather than play the now inflated side or the questionable total for a game in the very high elevation of Mexico City, I found a player prop that makes sense. The Cardinals came into Week 11 allowing 100 more yards than any other team to tight ends. They had also allowed 13 more receptions than any other team. Arizona is better against the run than the pass. In fact, they are dead last in Dropback Success Rate against and 16th in Dropback EPA. With George Kittle’s receiving prop at a very reasonable 41.5 yards, he seems like a focal point this week.
The 49ers have had two weeks to prepare, so a sharp offensive mind like Shanahan should have been able to find the mismatches and Kittle should be one of them. He’s only gone over this number three times this season, but this is the ideal spot to make him more involved in the offense.
Pick: George Kittle Over 41.5 Receiving Yards (-125)
Dave Tuley: The Monday nighter is being played on a neutral site in Mexico City. The advance line on this game over the summer was around 49ers -1.5 and was still under a touchdown last week. However, the San Fran bandwagon has been filling up since acquiring RB Christian McCaffrey even though they’ve been routed by the Chiefs 44-23 and beaten the Rams and Chargers (and didn’t cover as 8-point favorites) since then. So, this line is now up to 49ers -8 and I can’t resist taking the Cardinals plus the points even though it’s tempting to tease the 49ers down to -2 (which we’ll probably also do and have a nice shot at a middle).
The Cardinals have also received a boost from an added offensive player as WR DeAndre Hopkins missed the first games of the season due to a PED suspension. The Cardinals’ offense has opened up as their point totals in the last four games are 42, 26, 21 and 27 for an average of 29 points per game. Anything around that should keep them within a TD of the 49ers.
Pick: Cardinals +8