The Cardinals have already been locked out of the playoff picture, but the San Francisco 49ers haven't. They're guaranteed to go to the playoffs, but it's unclear as to whether they'll go as a division winner with a first-round bye, or as a wild card team. There is a lot riding on their Week 17 home game against the Arizona Cardinals.
Should the 49ers win and the Green Bay Packers lose to the Minnesota Vikings, the Niners would take over the No. 2 seed behind the Atlanta Falcons and earn a first-round bye. However, should they lose, the Packers win and the Seahawks win, the Seahawks would win the NFC West and the Niners could fall all the way down to the No. 5 seed, which would force them to travel as a wildcard team in the first week of the playoffs.
The Niners defeated the Cardinals by a score of 24-3 in Arizona in Week 8 this season, and they shouldn't have much of a problem handling them once again. Of course, the Cardinals will be facing Colin Kaepernick instead of Alex Smith (who threw for 232 yards, three touchdowns and zero interceptions against them last time).
The Niners have defeated the Cardinals in six of their last seven games and as long as they come out firing on all cylinders, there's no reason why they can't make that seven of their last eight games. However, a misstep here or there could cost the 49ers an awful lot and in the NFL, you can never really be sure what's going to happen.
Sunday, December 30; 1:25 p.m. PT
Candlestick Park, San Francisco, California
TV Distribution Map:
Niners: KNBR 680/1050
Cardinals: Arizona Sports 620 (AM)/News/Talk 92.3 KTAR (FM)