I was doing my daily perusal of ESPN's Mike Sandos' NFC West blog when I came across an article talking about the 49ers recent struggles in the red zone.
Because of this it seems that this game could become a low scoring affair as the Cardinals defense has not only being playing well of late but has also been particularly effective defending the Redzone.
After the break, a statistical breakdown of the Cardinals redzone defense versus the 49ers offense.
To start things off, a quote from Sando's blog:
The 49ers have scored touchdowns three times in 15 red zone possessions (.200) over their past five games, down from 12 in 22 chances (.545) over their previous six. The drop has raised questions about the team's approach inside opponents' 20-yard lines. Only St. Louis ranks lower in red zone touchdown percentage, one reason 49ers kickerDavid Akers has already set a franchise single-season record for made field goals (32).
The Niners have been playing pretty poorly these last few games averaging seven penalties a game and averaging almost 10 a game on the road. Add in their struggles in the redzone and things bode well for the Cardinals defense to hold another team to less than 13 points.
Arizona comes into this game as the fifth ranked defense on third down and the ninth ranked defense in the endzone. San Francisco is ranked 30th in third down conversions and 31st in redzone offense. However the 49ers average the fewest turnovers per game. So while the 49ers haven't been scoring many TD's, as quoted by Sando above, they have been getting points and slowly beating down their opponents Rocky-style.
On the flip side Arizona is the 15th ranked offense in the redzone, while this is a pedestrian number it is pretty surprising considering how poorly our QB play has been this season. Outside of that Arizona is below average or close to the bottom in every other offensive ranking. San Fransisco on the other hand has been well documented to have the best redzone defense, sixth on third down and ranked first in turnovers and points per game.
From this we can assume that neither team will be doing much scoring. The Cardinals will have to play their best football on both sides of the ball if they want to win this game.
I think they are up to the challenge.