After last week's 51-13 beatdown of the Carolina Panthers, the San Francisco 49ers have officially gotten the attention of the rest of the league and now are being viewed as legitimate contenders. Ultimately, the team only cares about stacking wins, but it's safe to say that everything the organization and its fans believed about the team is finally coming together.

At 7-0, the 49ers have a great chance to build on that tomorrow in Arizona, although it will be on a short week and they could be a little thin at running back. (More on that in a bit) The Cardinals are 3-4-1 and are coming off a 31-9 loss in New Orleans. Due to injuries of their own at running back, Arizona traded for Miami standout Kenyon Drake, who will suit up in place of David Johnson and Chase Edmunds.

As far as injuries, the 49ers have issues at running back with Matt Breida nursing an ankle, Raheem Mostert (quad), and Jeff Wilson suffering a stinger against the Panthers. For sure, tackle Mike McGlinchey, cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon, and fullback Kyle Juszczyk will not play, although the good news is they are all expected back for their Week 10 showdown against the Seattle Seahawks on Monday Night Football. Tackle Joe Staley has an outside chance of playing, but will also likely sit out against Arizona, but return to face Seattle.

We will see what happens, but, there's at least a good chance all four running backs will be available against Arizona.

For the Cardinals, they will be without Johnson and Edmunds at running back, and also the following did not practice on Tuesday, which could mean they will miss on Thursday: Zack Allen (DL), Justin Murray (LT), and Haason Reddick (LB). The Justin Murray injury is new this week and could be a big issue on the offensive line if he can't go.

Here are five keys to winning this game:

Where and When: Thursday, October 30 at 5:20 PM PST at University of Phoenix Stadium

Where to Watch: How to watch or listen to 49ers at Cardinals

1) Make Kyler Murray Throw



Kenyon Drake will have his work cut out for him against the defense of the 49ers and that could mean the Cardinals' best chance for success on the ground is for Kyler Murray to scramble.

San Francisco has to limit his ability to find running lanes. He hasn't had a big game on the ground since the beginning of October against Cincinnati, where he rushed ten times for 93 yards, but it's obviously something to ensure doesn't happen.

If the 49ers can keep Murray in the pocket, the pass rush should be able to have its way with the offensive line, pressure Murray into bad decisions and land a few sacks along the way.

2) Take Care of the Football



Currently, the Niners are +4 in their Turnover Differential, good for fourth place in the league, tied with Carolina. The defense has forced 16 turnovers, but the offense has given away the ball 12 times.

The only game this season where they had zero turnovers was Week 5 against the Cleveland Browns. The offense needs to find a way to not just limit turnovers, but, in a game like this, to eliminate them.

It starts with quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. He has had an interception in the first half of nearly every game thus far. If he can fix that blemish and not put the defense in a difficult spot early in the game, San Francisco will have a great chance to get up on Arizona early and build a lead.

3) Ensure Chandler Jones Does Not Dominate the Line of Scrimmage



The Cardinals do not boast of a great defense, but they have a few players who can cause major problems for offenses. One of them is outside linebacker Chandler Jones. Jones already has 8.5 sacks, good for third in the NFL.

It will be up to the offensive line to make sure Jones does not collapse the pocket and force Garoppolo into bad decisions or take sacks.

Kyle Shanahan will no doubt have a scheme designed to attempt to neutralize Jones, but it will come down to execution.

4) Continue to Run the Ball



The success of the offense through seven games has been driven largely by this dominant run game. Despite being without both starting tackles and their all-important fullback, the ground game has gashed defenses consistently and has set up the play action, where Garoppolo is at his best.

Kyle Shanahan said earlier today on KNBR that he expects Matt Breida and Raheem Mostert to be available, which definitely bodes well for the offense. That said, expect Tevin Coleman to get the bulk of the workload and be the feature back.

They don't have to run for 200 yards this week, but if they can get a few chunk plays and perhaps a long run that sets up a score, this offense should continue to roll and score near its impressive 29.6 points per game average.

5) Continue to Play Good Team Defense



What makes this defense special isn't simply the big names like Nick Bosa, Richard Sherman, DeForest Buckner, Dee Ford and Kwon Alexander. It's how they play as a unit.

Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh has the entire unit playing at a high level and gets many of the reserves into the game to give starters a breather, especially on the defensive line. The rotations have been deadly regardless of who is out there because of players on the line like Ronald Blair, Solomon Thomas, and D.J. Jones.

As the defensive line has been getting pressure, it has made everyone else's job easier and allowed the linebackers and secondary to be in position to make plays and even take some chances.

On this defense, it isn't about just one or two people, but rather, how they all feed off each other and all capitalize on opportunities as they come their way.

If they can continue to play at a high level, not give up the big play, make the quarterback very uncomfortable, and even come away with one early splash play, it will be a long day for the Arizona Cardinals.

Prediction



What makes this game difficult is that it is so soon after a big win. There hasn't been a lot of time for rest and the 49ers know they have to get right back out on the field and face a potentially dangerous division opponent.

Division games are never easy. In fact, the 49ers have not defeated the Cardinals since 2014.

Don't expect the game to be too big or be played too soon for this team. It is playing at a very high level and has the leadership to guard against a letdown.

49ers 27, Cardinals 17