No, Thursday night's game between the Cardinals and 49ers doesn't seem important to the majority of the NFL-watching public. But tell that to Arizona fans, whose team has started this season 1-3 coming off an NFC title game run in 2015.
Quarterback Carson Palmer's concussion further complicates matters for the Cardinals, who enter Week 5 tied with the 49ers at the bottom of the NFC West standings. The playoffs are not a given; not in the NFC, where teams from the North, East and South are likely to crowd the wild-card picture.
WEEK 5 PICKS: Straight up | Against the spread
San Francisco isn't as worried about the playoffs. Under new coach Chip Kelly, the 49ers are more concerned about finding their identity ... and their quarterback. Starter Blaine Gabbert's play through four weeks has only raised more questions about Colin Kaepernick's absence in the lineup.
The 49ers host the Cardinals on Thursday Night Football in what most consider a must-win game for the latter. Sporting News NFL writers David Steele and Vinnie Iyer have submitted their picks.
STEELE: Cardinals, 30-24 — These Cardinals are hardly recognizable right now, and they know it. Turning around and doing something about it is another story, though, especially on short rest and on the road. It’s still hard to tell whether they were bad or if the Rams are that good. That’s a big distinction for this game, because the 49ers, despite themselves, have been occasionally competitive.
IYER: Cardinals, 27-18 — Arizona is 1-3 and counting on backup QB Drew Stanton to help it rebound. Carson Palmer wasn’t playing well before his concussion against Los Angeles, and it’s hard to believe the team will trust Stanton to throw a ton. That means plenty of David Johnson against a 49ers defense without DeForest Buckner and NaVorro Bowman in the front seven. DJ will score once or more, and so will the defense, making plenty of big plays against soon-to-be-benched Blaine Gabbert, who sadly is the worse starting QB in this game.
Cardinals-49ers numbers that matter
— Cardinals: Lost six of last seven in San Francisco, snapped six-game losing streak in 2015
— Cardinals: Last 1-4 start was 2011; started 1-4 from 2003 to 2006
— 49ers: Loss would mark first 1-4 start in consecutive years since 1977-1979
— Both: 14 percent of 1-3 teams (26/183) made playoffs under current format (since 1990)
— Both: 6 percent of 1-4 teams (8/128) made playoffs under current format
— Both: 21 percent of 2-3 teams (46/216) made playoffs under current format
— 49ers: 4.7 yards per play on offense is second-worst in NFL (Rams are worst)
— Cardinals: Have third most turnovers (10) and third most turnovers forced (9)
— Drew Stanton: 7-5 career win-loss record as starter, 64.9 career passer rating vs 49ers