Well here we are. Week 17. At times it felt like this season would never end. A seven game losing streak. Three starting quarterbacks. A bottom-five defense in almost every category. Nine straight quarters without an offensive touchdown (before Jay Feely saved the day). Both the team and its fans have seen a lot and been through a lot during this four-month process.
And hopefully we never have to do it again. Hopefully, this season has been an anomaly. Hopefully, Ken Whisenhunt and the front office has learned the value of a franchise quarterback. Hopefully, these past few meaningless wins against bad teams haven't swayed the organization away from drafting a Cam Newton or a Ryan Mallet.
I'm sorry, please excuse my ramblings. This year has certainly been an adventure, and what better way is there to end it than with a matchup against our old pals -- the San Francisco 49ers. Yes, the team that was talking all that smack at the beginning of the year, and the only team that completely understands what we have gone through in this train wreck of a season. So, for the last and final time, lets take a look at the Cardinals matchup for this Sunday.
Arizona Cardinals +7 @ San Francisco 49ers
At the beginning of the season this game looked like it might be a final, epic battle for the NFC West division crown. Who'd a thought that honor would end up clamoring up north to the St. Louis @ Seattle matchup? Now, somehow, this once-marquee game has become a scuffle for last place in the division. Sometimes football just doesn't make sense.
Though, I do find it ironic that the Cardinals lost throughout the entire relevant part of the season while the fans wished for nothing more then a win; then, once it no longer mattered, and people secretly hoped they would lose out to nab a shot at Andrew Luck, the Redbirds bust out, winning two of their last three. It seems what we have here it a failure to communicate. Whatever the fans want, they give us the opposite.
But I digress. In what must be the weirdest streak ever, this Sunday the Cardinals will face their
fourth third interim coach in four weeks (first Eric Studesville, then the ghost of John Fox Jason Garrett, and now Jim Tomsula). In the first two of those temporary matchups the Cardinals came out victorious, so history may be trending towards their side. Though it should be noted that the 49ers haven't lost to the Cardinals since the 2007-2008 season, so that kind of cancels things out.
Still, the last time these two teams met, they were each in very different places. The 49ers season has been split into three chapters. First they wheezed out of the gate, going 0-5 in their first five games. Then they seemingly righted the ship and plowed to a 4-2 record through the middle of the season. Now, the Niners find themselves back to their sputtering ways, bumbling to a 1-3 record to end the year.
When the Cardinals faced the 49ers in Phoenix earlier in the year, San Francisco was in the midst of that middle stretch, feeling great about themselves and their brand new Smith (Troy).
What a difference a few weeks make. Now, the team couldn't be more down on itself. The firing of Mike Singletary right before the final game of the season only intensifies the inner turmoil within the team -- a problem that has plagued the organization throughout the past decade.
This will be a game of virtually no importance, and neither team will really have any motivation except the inherent bragging rights that come from avoiding the division's cellar. In an irrelevant matchup of two highly dysfunctional teams, the winner will be the only one with a shred of stability.
Prediction: Cardinals 27, 49ers 24
Last time's record: 0-1
Total record: 19-12