NFL picks and predictions, 49ers vs. Cardinals 2013: Experts split on tough NFC West matchup

Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

With a division title on the line for one team and a playoff berth for the other, neither team will be backing down this Sunday in Arizona. Who do the experts say will win?

The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals are both fighting for something in Week 17, and perhaps no time in history have these two franchises been so evenly matched. With an even line in Vegas, and the potential for both to finish with identical 11-5 records, will the Cards or 49ers come out victorious in their season finale in the desert?

The Cardinals have won seven of their last eight games, including a 17-10 upset of the Seahawks in Seattle last Sunday, which was the first time that anyone has beaten the Seahawks in their home stadium since 2011. Now the Cards are back home in Arizona and facing off against the Niners with a potential playoff berth on the line. With a win and a loss by the Saints, the Cardinals will be in the playoffs for the first time since 2009.

But the 49ers can't back down when they've also got something huge on the line. If San Francisco can beat Arizona and Seattle loses to the Rams on Sunday, then the 49ers will win the NFC West for the third year in a row. That would also provide them with a first-round bye and potentially home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. San Francisco has won five straight games coming into the final week of the year.

So, who do the experts think will win?

Here at SB Nation, three of five panelists believe that the Niners will pull out the win in Arizona. It's similarly close elsewhere, including at CBS Sports, where five of eight experts are choosing the Cardinals to get the win.

The panel at ESPN is also about an even split between Arizona and San Francisco, while the resident expert at Yahoo! Sports is going with the Niners.

It's a pick 'em around the Internet, just like in Vegas, and another example of how much the NFC West has turned around in the last couple of years from NFL doormat to powerhouse.

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