Arizona Cardinals vs. San Francisco 49ers Pick & Prediction DECEMBER 17th 2023

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It’s homecoming weekend for Brock Purdy as his San Francisco 49ers continue the chase for the No. 1 NFC seed on Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals in Glendale, Ariz.

The 49ers (10-3) are the first team to clinch a playoff spot. They also are on a five-game winning streak during which they have outscored opponents 162-65.

The Cardinals (3-10) are rested after a bye week, have won two of their last four games since Kyler Murray’s return, and are looking to spoil the Purdy party.

Before he was the final player selected in the 2022 NFL Draft and before he became a leading 2023 MVP candidate, Purdy starred at Perry High School in Gilbert, Ariz. That’s about 40 miles from the site of Sunday’s game at State Farm Stadium, the same venue where he led Iowa State to a Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon on Jan. 2, 2021.

Purdy deflected talk about NFL MVP buzz this week.

“I’m trying to do what I can for this team, for this Sunday, and for this practice or this meeting. I’m not getting caught up in awards and stuff like that,” he said. “If anything, I look at it more as a team award. I have a great surrounding cast. I’ve got guys around me that are all making plays, a great defense, great special teams. And so that’s a testament to the team that I have.”

In addition to putting on a show for family and friends, Purdy wants to keep San Francisco in control of its postseason destiny. With wins by 23 points over the Philadelphia Eagles and by 32 over the Dallas Cowboys (both also are 10-3), the 49ers will earn the only first-round bye in the NFC if they win out.

Purdy passed for 368 yards with two touchdowns and an interception in last Sunday’s 28-16 victory against Seattle. He leads the NFL in completion percentage (70.2) and quarterback rating (116.9) entering Week 15.

Purdy threw for 283 yards and a touchdown and also ran for a late score in the first meeting with Arizona, a 35-16 win at Levi’s Stadium in Week 4. Murray was still rehabbing from ACL surgery in that game and Joshua Dobbs — now with the Minnesota Vikings — passed for 265 yards and two scores for the Cardinals.

The difference-maker that day was 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 106 yards and three TDs and caught seven passes for 71 yards and a score.

The Cardinals played their most complete game of the season before their bye, a 24-10 win at Pittsburgh in Week 13. That game featured 105 rushing yards and two touchdowns from James Conner and eight catches for 89 yards and a TD by second-year tight end Trey McBride.

“We’re a tough team. We’re going to fight every game,” McBride said. “(Division) games mean a little bit more. Those are the ones that mean the most, so we’re trying to get those ones. Obviously, the 49ers are playing really well right now. Coming into our house, I think it’s going to be a great matchup and I’m excited.”

The 49ers are 4-0 in the NFC West and the Cardinals are 0-4. San Francisco has swept the last three meetings by a combined margin of 111-39.

Starting defensive tackles Javon Hargrave (hamstring) and Arik Armstead (foot, knee), cornerback Charvarius Ward (groin), linebacker Dre Greenlaw (ankle, hip) and left tackle Trent Williams (ankle, rest) did not practice Wednesday for the 49ers.

Marquise Brown (heel) did not practice Wednesday for the Cardinals, but fellow receiver Michael Wilson (shoulder) returned and is on track to play for the first time since Week 10.

–Field Level Media

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