The San Francisco 49ers have just secured their place as NFC West Champions for the season, but they'll still be going into Sunday's game against the Arizona Cardinals with plans to beat them under any circumstances. The New Orleans Saints are threatening with a 9-3 record, and San Francisco would like to enjoy a first round bye in its first playoff appearance since 2002.
While the 49ers are coming off a good win over the St. Louis Rams, the Cardinals are riding a high after beating the Dallas Cowboys in overtime. Arizona was set to lose the game when Dallas head coach Jason Garret called a timeout as his own kicker drilled the game-winning field goal. As time expired, the kicker would go on to miss it, and Arizona got their chance in overtime. Kevin Kolb avoided a sack and hit LaRod Stephens-Howling on a dumpoff ... which of course, embarrassed Rob Ryan's defense and went for a game-winning touchdown.
So both teams are feeling confident, though the situations are far from similar. Alex Smith's confidence is at an all-time high, while Kolb is still getting used to be being back in the lineup. One thing that could help the Cardinals is the fact that the 49ers could be without star linebacker Patrick Willis. He's already listed as doubtful, and it's unclear whether that's because he's not recovering as fast as they're wanting, or if they're just being safe. Wide receiver Braylon Edwards could also be out.
San Francisco took the first meeting between the two teams this season at Candlestick Park by a margin of 23-7. The game is set for Sunday at 1:05 p.m. pacific.