It is Week 17 in the 2012 season and the Arizona Cardinals will close it out on the road against the San Francisco 49ers, who can clinch the NFC West with a win over the Cards or a loss or tie by the Seattle Seahawks to the St. Louis Rams. Obviously, the Cards would like to throw a monkey wrench into the Niners' plans with a huge upset win, as there is really nobody that believes that the Cardinals even have a remote chance of winning.
Before they play, let's look at some of the numbers and more.
The two teams have solid defenses. San Francisco boasts the number two overall unit according to yardage and the Cards are number 12. Where they differ is in their ability to stop the run. Arizona is near the bottom at 28, while the Niners are number six. Where the Cards succeed is in stopping the passing game, ranking third and the Niners fourth. Arizona's opponents have a QB rating of 68.5, the lowest in the league, due in part to the number of interceptions Arizona's defense has. They have picked off 22 passes.
However, where San Francisco is a difficult matchup is the fact that they have the fourth best rushing attack in the league. They rely on Frank Gore and their other runners to set up the pass, allowing their quarterbacks (now Colin Kaepernick) to make lo risk throws.
Arizona's offense is terrible -- worst in all of football. They are starting Brian Hoyer at quarterback, the fourth player to start for them at the position. Outside of Kevin Kolb, Arizona's quarterbacks have thrown two touchdowns and 17 interceptions. They have not had a passing touchdown since their game against the Green Bay Packers.
Arizona has given up 56 sacks on the season, one of the worst totals in the league. San Francisco's Aldon Smith, with three sacks could set the league record for sacks in a season.
In all, Arizona gains on average 263 yards per game while allowing 333 yards, San Francisco gains 359 and allows 296.
This does not bode well for the Cardinals.
The 49ers won their last game against one another rather handily. It was on Monday Night Football on October 29 and they steamrolled Arizona 24-3. Alex Smith had an almost record-setting performance, completing 18 of 19 passes, while their defense limited Arizona to 2/14 on third down and a total of seven yards rushing, keeping them out of the end zone.
If San Francisco wins, it will make the eighth season out of the past nine in which one team has swept the other in the season series. In 2011 they split games, and before that it wasn't since 2003. A sweep for the Niners would make the fifth time they have swept the series since the divisions were realigned, bring the Cards from the NFC East to the NFC West.
Overall, Arizona is 17-25 against the Niners, including 8-14 in San Francisco.
San Francisco has two players that were once Cardinals. Linebacker Clark Haggans played for Arizona for four seasons before being cut at the end of this past preseason. Offensive lineman Leonard Davis was drafted number two overall by the Cardinals and he played 91 games for Arizona between 2001 and 2006.
Arizona has offensive lineman Adam Snyder, who currently starts at center for Arizona after previously being the starting right guard. He was drafted by the Niners in 2005 and left as a free agent this past offseason, signing a five-year contract with the Cardinals.
Arizona is a 17.5 point underdog in this game. Interesting fact -- the Cardinals are the only double digit underdog to win a game outright this season, which they did against the New England Patriots as 13.5 point underdogs.
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