Cardinals Look for a Higher Playoff Seed vs. 49ers

This week’s meeting between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals has a considerably higher amount of intrigue than what fans expected entering the season. The 49ers have been eliminated from the postseason and head coach Jim Harbaugh may be coaching his final game on the San Francisco sidelines. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals were the first team to clinch a playoff spot, but have been dealing with several injuries at the quarterback position this season that have mired the early year success.

With the season done and interest level waning amongst 49ers fans, the ticket-buying public will find the cheapest prices at Levi’s Stadium for a 49ers game. Ever.
Currently, the average ticket price is $182 for 49ers vs. Arizona Cardinals tickets, the lowest average price for any game at Levi’s Stadium this season. The cheapest tickets available start at $59. It isn’t the way that San Francisco wanted to usher in the new era at Levi’s Stadium, but at least fans who want to get into the stadium for a much reduced price will get an opportunity to see the newly-built building in Santa Clara.

49ers fans won’t have much reason to attend the game (other than to see the stadium) since they’ve been eliminated from the playoffs, but Arizona has much to play for. They’ve clinched a playoff spot and could land anywhere from 1st to 6th in the final seeding. If they lose to the 49ers, they’ll be either the fifth seed (and will go on the road to play the winner of this week’s Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons showdown) or will be the sixth seed (if Green Bay and Detroit were to tie.)

If they are to win this week, they’ll be the fifth seed unless Seattle loses to St. Louis. If the Seahawks were to fall, Arizona could be the top seed and have home field advantage throughout the remainder of the playoffs if the Lions beat the Packers. If Green Bay beats Detroit, Arizona will be the second seed and will at least have a bye through the first week of the playoffs.
There’s clearly a lot riding on the game for Arizona regarding playoff implications so the motivation for Cardinals players shouldn’t be an issue. On the other sideline, it’s a whole different story.

The big question in San Francisco will be who the 49ers will have as head coach in 2015. Harbaugh has one year remaining on his contract, but there have been whispers that he is not content at San Francisco and wants a position where he will have much more control in player personnel decisions. Somewhere such as Oakland or the New York Jets may be willing to offer him that type of role following the season.

The biggest rumor, however, surrounds his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Michigan has been out of the national title contention for several years now and is desperately trying to find an individual to lead them back to glory. A rumored six year, forty-eight million dollar contract has been delivered to Harbaugh which would make him the highest paid coach in America. Harbaugh is undoubtedly one of the best coaches in the NFL with a proven track record that includes three straight trips to the NFC Conference championship. With such a resume, there will be several teams looking to make just as lucrative offers to get Harbaugh in their team colors.

It will be the final game of the season for San Francisco and the final tune-up for Arizona before the playoffs. Will Arizona get the win and put them in position to potentially take home field in the playoffs, or will San Francisco win one more game for their coach?