By Mihir Bhagat
The San Francisco imposed their strength over the Arizona Cardinals as they obliterated them in a commanding 27-6 victory yesterday on Monday Night Football.

The 49ers (4-7) may still be third place in the NFC West, but they've still got a legitimate chance at making the playoffs. In fact, they are surprisingly only one game out of the division lead, which just goes to show how weak the NFC West truly is.

Nonetheless, Considering they have three divisional games remaining on their schedule, it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that they pull things together and rally to the finish line.

Of course, if they play like they did today it shouldn't be a problem.

Head coach Mike Singletary has often emphasized that his vision was to be a physical, run first team. Last night his squad did exactly that, running their way to dominance as they out-gained the Cardinals 261-13 on the ground.

On a side note, of course they will significantly miss the services of Frank Gore. But they showed that they can win without him, and I don't see why they can't continue to do so.

Yet, the rough road ahead won't be easy to overcome. They will have to take their talents to Green Bay and take on a talented Packers team that's looked remarkably sharp lately regardless of the nail-biting 17-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons last week.

In addition, they'll have to battle the San Diego Chargers in Week 16, who will also be fighting for their playoff lives. So, realistically speaking, I'll admit that those will be incredibly difficult to win.

However, if they run the table against the divisional opponents that I referenced to earlier, they would be in a great position at 7-9 potentially becoming the first team in NFL history to qualify for the playoffs with a losing record.

Taking a look at the Rams and Seahawks schedules, they each have a couple difficult games remaining on their schedule against the Saints/Chiefs and Falcons/Buccaneers, respectively. Moreover, they contend against each other in the final game of the season.

That said, if both were also to lose to the 49ers, one would finish at 6-10 and the other at 7-9. That would then leave the 49ers to ultimately claim the division crown as they would own the tiebreaker.

Interestingly enough, if they get the job done, then they will have met their initial expectations of getting over the hump and into the postseason.

Whether it's fair or not when teams such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New York Giants, who are both 7-4, are currently on the outside looking in is a discussion for a separate time.

All in all, despite the slow start, the 49ers playoff hopes are still alive and the entire franchise's fate lies on the team's performance in the ensuing weeks. Not saying it won't be hard and they'll certainly need a dash of luck to assist them, but crazier things have happened before.

This is crunch time. The ball is in the 49ers hands, and it's up to them to finish strong.

And call me a homer, but I'm sticking by my original predictions that they will win the division and make the faithful 49ers fans proud.


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