GLENDALE, AZ — Unlike the San Francisco 49ers injury report, I will keep this short and simple. San Francisco is banged up like no other team in the NFL. In addition to being without nearly every big-name player, they will trot a third-string QB out there Saturday at State Farm Stadium (with Josh Rosen as the backup QB). Granted, C.J. Beathard is not your run-of-the-mill third-stringer, but the Arizona Cardinals shouldn't be shaking in their boots either.
In a situation like this, it isn't about the X's and O's as much as it is about the effort and competition level. The Cardinals should put the 49ers away early. Simply, they are playing for something, the 49ers are not.
The Cards playoff hopes hinge largely on coming away with a win this weekend. The Chicago Bears are the only team that can snatch the final playoff spot out from under them, and the Bears face the lowly-Jaguars on Sunday. Considering Chicago holds the tiebreaker, and the Cardinals travel to LA in week 17 to take on a Rams team they haven't beaten in nearly four years, this is essentially a must-win.
The Cardinals offense is starting to heat up again, while the defense has hung around all season despite injuries at every level. Now it's about putting teams away when they go up a couple of scores, and DeAndre Hopkins said that's the next step for this team to take to become hard to beat.
I think they are able to do that this weekend, and the end of a five-year playoff drought is so close they can taste it.
Prediction: Cardinals 34, 49ers 17