Even though it’s week seventeen, the NFC playoff picture is still in disarray with a couple of “do or die” games and others that could affect the playoff seeding. The 49ers punched their ticket to the playoffs last week but still have lot’s to play for when they face Arizona. A Niner victory paired with a Seattle loss would crown San Francisco NFC West Champs and a playoff bye, a feat thought to be impossible just a couple weeks ago.
The 49ers will once again try to control the line of scrimmage and pound the ball with Frank Gore, who only needs 47 yards to reach ten thousand for his career. In their first meeting, San Francisco executed this plan to perfection as they started off by handing it to Gore then going to Vernon Davis down the field with play action. Davis finished that week 6 victory with eight catches, 180 yards and two touchdowns. This time Colin Kaepernick has Michael Crabtree in the mix so look for these two to combine on big plays throughout the game.
It’s a completely different story when it comes to the playoffs for the Cardinals. They are playing the best football in the league at the moment winning 7 of 8 including a victory on the road over the Seahawks last week, they have a 10-5 record at the moment and their defense is a force as they are number one at stopping the run, yet a victory against the 49ers will not guarantee them a playoff spot. The Cardinals could be 11-5 and could miss the playoffs. It isn’t right, but it will happen unless the Saints choke against the Buccaneers.
The Cardinals are still breathing however and both teams have something to play for so it will be a tough physical game that will be decided by one possession.
Match-up to watch: Card WR vs 49ers’ secondary
Carson Palmer is a bonafide gunslinger who isn’t afraid to throw it up for his receivers to make plays and with Larry Fitzgerald and Micheal Floyd, who can blame him. These guys are big physical targets who can it to the house on any given touch. In their week six meeting Fitzgerald had a 75 yard touchdown, his longest of the season. If San Francisco hopes get a tough road victory, their secondary can’t allow any of these big chunk plays.
Bottom line: Finish Strong
This is going to a tough game for both teams to win. Both offenses will struggle and it will come down to a big play on offense or a turnover and who can take advantage and not settle for field goals. The 49ers have been overlooked so far season up until a couple weeks ago, a victory here will once again put them as favorites to beat the likes of Seattle and Carolina. They will send a message this Sunday.
Cardinals 17 in overtime