Week 17: Arizona Cardinals At San Francisco 49ers
- QuarterbackThe Cardinals have little to offer. Ryan Lindley had decent numbers against the Bears, but he was simply dreadful as he missed open receivers repeatedly. The Cardinals went to Brian Hoyer, but he is not the answer either. Ken Whisenhunt knows that his team does not have a chance in this game unless the 49ers implode.Colin Kaepernick learned that it’s not so easy to go on the road and beat an inspired opponent in the Week 16 blowout loss to Seattle. No such problem this week against the putrid Cardinals. Kaepernick will not be under pressure to score with every possession against Arizona. He will get protection from his line and he should be able to pick Arizona apart.
- OffenseThe Cardinals’ offensive line has been awful and that’s something that’s going to take quite a while for this organization to fix. The Cardinals got a solid performance from running back Beanie Wells in Week 15 vs. the Lions, but his fumble in Week 16 gave the Bears their first touchdown and started the Arizona downfall. Larry Fitzgerald can threaten the San Francisco secondary.The 49ers have a solid running game and that’s still the most dependable aspect of their offense. Frank Gore runs with power and punishes opposing tacklers. Gore has rushed for 1,146 yards and has an average of 4.8 yards per carry. The Niners could be in trouble since Mario Manningham was carted off the field with a knee injury and tight end Vernon Davis suffered a concussion against Seattle.
- DefenseThe Cardinals are solid against the pass but they are weak against the run. Linebacker Daryl Washington is a remarkable player who leads the team with 123 tackles and he also has 9.0 sacks. Defensive end Calais Campbell has a disappointing 5.5 sacks but he has batted down six passes.The 49ers got pierced by Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, but look for a turnaround here. This unit is too good not to turn it around quickly. Aldon Smith is one of the best pass rushers in the league and he has 19.5 sacks. NaVorro Bowman may be the fastest linebacker in the league and he has a team-high 144 tackles.
- Special TeamsJay Feely has a big leg and can hit field goals from as long as 60 yards. Dave Zastudil is a competent punter. Peterson has explosive speed and return ability, but he has not brought a punt back for a score. Kick returner William Powell is averaging 24.1 yards per return with a long of 65 yards.David Akers has missed more than his share of FG attempts. Akers has a big leg and he can hit the long kicks, but he does not always keep them on track. He has made 27-of-38 FG attempts this season. Andy Lee is averaging 48.3 yards as a punter.
The 49ers need to win this game in order to hold off the Seahawks and win the NFC West. While the Niners may be in the process of choking, it won’t show against the Cardinals, who are one of the worst teams in the NFL.