Both the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals came into their regular season finale riding hot streaks, and both having a lot to play for in Week 17. Before play began, the 49ers still had a chance at winning the NFC West and home-field advantage. On the other side, the Cardinals needed a win and some help to earn a Wild Card spot in the playoffs. If it was not for the outcome of Monday night, the matchup would have created the NFC’s third win-or-go-home game of the week as well.
Already having a playoff spot secured, San Francisco jumped out to a 17-0 lead, only to see those pesky birds claw back to tie the game with less then a minute to play. The dual was a defensive struggle throughout with both sides coming up with stops when they had to. However, Colin Kaepernick and Carson Palmer still managed solid days slinging the ball around all afternoon, each completing over 20 passes and 300 yards respectively. Palmer also eclipsed the 400-yard mark as well for the second time this season, but in the final seconds, it was the 49ers hitting a late field goal for the win.
With the victories by the Seattle Seahawks and New Orleans Saints, it eliminated San Fran from the division crown and the Cardinals from the playoffs altogether. With the playoff picture rounding out, San Francisco will now travel to the NFC North Champion Green Bay Packers next week in the Wild Card Round of the playoffs. For Arizona, they are left with a 10-win season and the distinction of having the best record of the teams not to make the playoffs.
Arizona can really be proud of their season. The topic of bringing back Palmer for another season will be a major focal point in the offseason. For San Francisco, they will now carry a six-game winning streak into the playoffs. Do the Niners have another Super Bowl run in them this season?
Nick Schaeflein is a sports writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ptchr2424 or add him to your network on Google.