The Seahawks’ slim chance at making the playoffs shrunk even more on Sunday, thanks to the San Francisco 49ers’ victory over the Atlanta Falcons (and the New Orleans Saints’ win in Tampa). The Cardinals also increased the likelihood that their Week 18 matchup with Seattle will be meaningful by absolutely collapsing in an 18-point loss to the Lions. Aside from the impact these games had on slowly crushing the Seahawks’ shot at the playoffs, let’s take a look at what we learned from Sunday’s matchups.
Cardinals self-destruct, get dominated by Jared Goff in embarrassing defeat
In a move I hope the Seahawks don’t replicate in two weeks’ time, Arizona came out flat as a pancake against the Detroit Lions and didn’t get any better from there. The Lions led 17-0 at half and never led by fewer than 14 points in the second half. Although he wasn’t producing massive numbers, it’s clear that the loss of DeAndre Hopkins has had a significant impact on the Cards’ offense; at a minimum, he serves as a great distraction that gets the other receivers more open. Christian Kirk had a good game, but Kyler Murray was bad and couldn’t find open receivers all day long. The Lions also held James Conner in check, giving up just 39 yards to the back who had been so dominant so far this season.
So, what does this mean for the Cardinals? They are now the #4 seed in the NFC following the loss, and their road to the divisional title just got more difficult, and the Rams will have a chance to tie up the division Tuesday. After dropping two games straight for the first time all year, the team that looked poised for a Super Bowl run earlier in the year is looking like a shell of itself. Things don’t get much easier for the Cardinals from here, either; a visit from the Colts on Saturday will be followed up by a trip to Arlington, Texas to take on the Cowboys in Week 17.
49ers win sixth of last seven games, virtually eliminate Falcons from playoff contention
If there’s one thing you should know about the 49ers this year, it’s that they are very good when Jimmy Garoppolo does not throw an interception. Of course, this is true for nearly every team, but it is especially true for the 49ers; in 2021, they are now 7-0 when Garoppolo doesn’t throw a pick, and just 1-6 when he does. The 49ers do best when they can throw the offense behind a back who can get at least 20 carries and take the pressure off of Jimmy G, and although the identity of this back seems to change weekly, they are all capable of 100-yard performances (seriously, where do they keep getting all these guys?).
This week, it was Jeff Wilson who ripped of 21 carries for 110 yards, wearing down a porous Falcons defense. In other offensive news, George Kittle continued his hot streak, with six catches for 93 yards. The 49ers are now 8-6 and are exceedingly likely to make the playoffs. Consider me frustrated.
Arizona Cardinals - 10-4 (4-1 DIV)
Los Angeles Rams - 9-4 (2-2 DIV)
San Francisco 49ers - 8-6 (1-4 DIV)
Seattle Seahawks - 5-8 (2-2 DIV)
Arizona Cardinals vs. Indianapolis Colts (Saturday)
Los Angeles Rams at Minnesota Vikings
Seattle Seahawks vs. Chicago Bears
San Francisco 49ers at Tennessee Titans (Thursday)