GLENDALE, Ariz. — The San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals talk about how much is at stake when they meet in their regular-season finale on Sunday.
But there might be hardly anything at all at stake.
The 49ers must win to have a shot at the division title and perhaps the No. 1 seed in the NFC; the Cardinals need a victory just to have any playoff chance. Both teams are at the mercy of others.
San Francisco, which has clinched at least a wild-card spot, wins the NFC West if the 49ers beat Arizona and Seattle loses at home to St. Louis. The 49ers get the NFC's top seed with a victory over the Cardinals, a Seahawks loss and a loss by Carolina. Arizona's narrow path to the postseason is a victory over San Francisco and a Tampa Bay upset of the Saints in New Orleans.
A win by the Cardinals (10-5) over the 49ers (11-4) would leave the teams with identical records, but San Francisco has the tiebreaker. That would leave Arizona only the second team to go 11-5 and not make the playoffs since the league went to its division format in 2002.
Neither side plans any scoreboard watching, though.
"I'm sure it's going to be plastered all over the stadium," Arizona quarterback Carson Palmer said. "It's probably not going to be easy to avoid, but we have to focus on the team that's across from us."
If the Cardinals don't make it to the playoffs, they can look back at near-misses at St. Louis, at Philadelphia, and at San Francisco.
In that Oct. 17 game in San Francisco, Arizona trailed 22-20 early in the fourth quarter and had the ball at the San Francisco 31. Palmer threw over the middle to Larry Fitzgerald, but Patrick Willis stripped the ball and the 49ers recovered at their 11-yard line. San Francisco used up 9:32 in an 18-play, 89-yard drive for the clinching score.
Arizona lost the following week at home to Seattle, then went 7-1.
Arizona has gained a lot of belief in itself since the last time it met San Francisco. Winning seven of eight, and snapping Seattle's 14-game home winning streak, has the Cardinals talking about being the best team in the NFC.
"I sure do," Arizona coach Bruce Arians said. "Hopefully, we'll show up Sunday and prove it and get a chance to prove it in the playoffs."
KITNA DONATES — Jon Kitna will earn $53,000 to serve as the Cowboys' third-string quarterback for one week — and he plans to donate that money to the Seattle-area high school where he's now a coach.
Kitna told The Dallas Morning News of his plans Wednesday.
Kitna retired after the 2011 season, his 15th in the league, and was coaching football at Lincoln High School in Tacoma, Wash., this season when he heard about Tony Romo's back injury. Kitna sent a text message Tuesday morning to Cowboys coach Jason Garrett, and the two would talk by phone for 30 minutes, he said.
"I told Jason if he wants me or somebody to come in and call a play and be able to pull a play off if a bad situation happened, I would be willing to do that," the 41-year-old Kitna told the newspaper.
He'll suit up Sunday as the backup to Kyle Orton if Romo can't play against the Philadelphia Eagles, in a game that will decide a playoff berth.
Kitna appeared in three games for the Cowboys in 2011 and has started 124 games overall for Seattle, Cincinnati, Detroit and Dallas.
"He's a very active guy," Garrett said Wednesday. "He's a mentally tough guy. And he's certainly very young at heart. So it was good to have him back, good to have him back in the meetings, and (I'm) excited to see him practice today."
DEX PLANS TO PLAY — Dallas receiver Dez Bryant says he will play in a winner-take-all finale against Philadelphia despite missing practice because of a persistent back problem.
Bryant was downgraded on the practice report Thursday, a day after being a limited participant when the back flared up. He said he aggravated his back in the 24-23 win over Washington.
The Cowboys (8-7) play the Eagles (9-6) on Sunday night in their third straight season-ender with the NFC East title and a playoff berth on the line.
Bryant said he planned to have doctors take a closer look at his back after the season. He had back problems last season as well.
BOWE CONCUSSED — Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe was diagnosed Thursday with a concussion.
Bowe was on the field at the start of practice that is open to reporters. He later reported concussion-like symptoms and was listed on the injury report as a non-participant in practice.
Bowe was shaken up in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 23-7 loss to Indianapolis when hit by Colts safety LaRon Landry, who was given a 15-yard penalty for hitting a defenseless player.
Bowe was already on the ground after making a catch for 10 yards when Landry grazed him in the head. Bowe left the field but returned later in the drive and was targeted for a pass that went incomplete.
Bowe is the Chiefs' second-leading receiver with 57 catches for 673 yards and five touchdowns. He caught five passes for 46 yards on Sunday.
ASOMUGHA TO RETIRE — Former All-Pro cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha will retire after 11 years in the NFL.
The Raiders said Asomugha will announce his retirement officially at a news conference at team headquarters today.
Asomugha had his greatest success in the NFL with the Raiders after being drafted in the first round out of California in 2003. He earned three Pro Bowl selections in eight seasons in Oakland and was a first-team All-Pro in 2008 and 2010.
Asomugha struggled after joining Philadelphia as a high-profile free agent in 2011. After two seasons with the Eagles, Asomugha played three games with San Francisco this season before being cut last month.