Both teams are coming off their best defensive performances of the season, and four of the following five bold predictions are positive for the defenses.
The 49ers (3-2) desperately need to win this game to pass Arizona (3-2) in the standings and keep pace with the Seattle Seahawks. San Francisco should be in good shape if the majority of these projections come to fruition.
Arizona has had offensive line issues for years, and this season is no exception. Despite having lots of talent at the skill positions, the Cardinals average the third-fewest yards per game in the league.
The biggest issue is the blocking of the offensive line.
Starting tackles Eric Winston and Bradley Sowell both have posted negative pass-blocking scores on Pro Football Focus (subscription required).
Ahmad Brooks hasn't had a breakout performance this season, with just 2.5 sacks in five games. He'll have his way with Arizona on Sunday.
The Cardinals average 81 rushing yards per game, which ranks 23rd in the NFL.
They'll have lots of trouble reaching that number against San Francisco.
The 49ers allow just 3.7 yards per attempt. They absolutely shut down the St. Louis Rams' Daryl Richardson in Week 4, giving up 16 yards on 12 carries.
They're due for another stellar defensive performance against Arizona's mediocre running game, which won't bode well for Rashard Mendenhall, who is averaging just 3.2 yards per rushing attempt.
Vernon Davis has yet to total 100 receiving yards in a game this season.
That will change on Sunday.
Assuming Arizona star cornerback Patrick Peterson matches up with Anquan Boldin, the 49ers are going to target Davis early and often to sustain drives.
The Cardinals have allowed 466 receiving yards and four touchdowns to tight ends so far this year. And Davis had a 64-yard TD reception against the Houston Texans that had many members of the media buzzing, including Matt Barrows of The Sacramento Bee, who tweeted: "My professional opinion on Vernon Davis' hamstring injury: healed."
All the signs and stats point toward Davis having a big game.
Carson Palmer is second in the league in interceptions with nine. Tramaine Brock had two interceptions in Week 5 against the Houston Texans.
I see a match.
Even if Nnamdi Asomugha returns to the field this week, Brock will likely see the majority of the nickel cornerback snaps.
Just ask Jim Harbaugh.
“Really pleased with the way Tramaine is ascending,” Harbaugh told CSN Bay Area's Matt Maiocco and other reporters a day after San Fran's win over Houston. “When you play like that, you’re going to continue to play. So I’m sure there will be more opportunity for him. So we’re excited about that.”
The Cardinals feature their share of three-wide receiver sets with Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and Andre Roberts. With more opportunity, Brock, who was named NFC Defensive Player of the Week on Wednesday, will once again produce.
Calais Campbell (right) has three sacks this season.
The Cardinals have allowed 16 points combined in their last two games. The 49ers have allowed 14.
Yup, folks. This could be a classic defensive struggle.
Sure, the 49ers have scored 69 points in their past two games combined, but they've used a run-the-ball-and-create-turnovers formula to get there. They'll do the latter, but they'll have some trouble doing the former against an Arizona run defense led by stud D-lineman Calais Campbell.
It won't be easy, but I expect the 49ers to get by the Cardinals 20-13.