Estadio Azteca
The imposing Estadio Azteca at night with Mexico City as a background. Bruce Riddoch

NFC West rivals San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals travel south of the border for a week 11 matchup. The game at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City 8 p.m. ET concludes the NFL’s international game series for the 2022 season.

With an official capacity of 87,523, both organizations are no stranger to the largest stadium in Mexico and Latin America. The 49ers and Cardinal's face-off on Monday night, in a rematch of the first regular-season NFL game played outside the United States. The Cardinals beat the 49ers 31-14 in front of 103,467 shouting fans inside Estadio Azteca in 2005.

The 49ers (5-4) have won back-to-back games, behind its first ranked defense in the NFL. Cardinals (4-6) defeated the defending Super Bowl champions, L.A. Rams, Sunday 27-17, with backup quarterback Colt McCoy dropping back to pass.

Here's what to watch out for in the 49ers vs, Cardinals game.

San Fransisco's top-ranked defense

Heading into week 11 the 49ers have the best defense in the league. The 49ers defense will show up in Mexico on Monday night, leading the league in fewest opponent yards per game (280.6) and is ranked fourth in opponent offensive points per game.

The 49ers' defense is led by 2019 Defensive Rookie of the Year Nick Bosa. The fourth-year veteran is on track to break his career-high 15.5 sacks, with 9.5 to his name in 2022.

The 49ers' defense will face quarterback Colt Mccoy, or returning starter Kyler Murray, bouncing back from a hamstring injury. Look for Bosa and the 49ers' defense to continue their dominance and hold the Cardinals to a low scoring game.

Can Colt McCoy have a repeat performance?

The Cardinals have no fear of using veteran backup Colt McCoy, if starting quarterback Murray is unable to play.

"The Real McCoy" completed 26 of 37 passes for 238 yards and a 27-17 victory over the 2021 NFC West champions. McCoy made the start in place of Murray Sunday against the Rams. Despite suffering an injury, the 13-year veteran later returned to finish the game.

The Cardinals beat the 49ers last season with McCoy playing and are 3-1 in four starts, with the former University of Texas standout, over the last two seasons.

Altitude will be a factor

Mexico City is at about 7,200 feet (about 2.19 km) in elevation. The 49ers arrived Tuesday, practicing at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and expect to make the trip to Mexico Sunday.

However, the Cardinals chose to stay at home and practice in Tempe. Kingsbury considered the idea of taking their practice reps in Flagstaff, Ariz., which has a similar elevation comparable to Estadio Azteca's altitude.

Besides the enviornmental factors in Mexico City, NFL players are advised to drink bottled water, and eat in the team meal room. Watch for fatigue to play a role in the outcome of the game.

Can the 49ers end their Redzone struggles?

In 2022, the 49ers are scoring TDs 54.8% when reaching the red zone, down from a league-leading 66.7% in 2021.

Despite defeating the L.A. Chargers last Sunday, Shannahan said, "We got inside the 10-yard line five times and scored touchdowns on two of them ... If we did on those other three, we would have been clicking huge, and had over 30 points."

The 49ers average 22 points per game, and rank 18th in the league in scoring. The Cardinals' defense ranks 28th in the league, allowing opposing teams to score 67.5 percent of their red zone trips. Look for the 49ers to break away from their redzone struggles Monday night against the Cardinals.

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