The NFL schedule makers once considered tonight's San Francisco-Arizona game as a showdown.
Now, they'll be lucky if the teams show up.
Although many people would give him a hearty thumbs down for his performance so far, the 49ers' Mike Singletary sees the game as a referendum on his performance as a coach.
"Obviously, at 3-7, I wouldn't even dare to say I'm doing a good job," he said last week, before adding, "Ask me after that [Arizona] game if I do a good job."
The 49ers have shown a flicker of life, winning two of their last five games. The Cardinals are riding a five-game losing streak.
"We are not really a confident team right now," Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "I think it's a natural human emotion when you've lost five in a row and you've lost some of the games the way we have. It's definitely something that plays into it. This game is about momentum. It's about confidence and we don't have a lot to base positive things on here lately."
San Francisco turned in a miserable performance at home in a 21-0 loss to Tampa Bay in Week 11. In that game, quarterback Troy Smith was sacked six times and threw for only 148 yards, with an interception. It was a far cry from his first two starts, when he threw for a combined 552 yards and two touchdowns.
Then again, he got some help from his running game in those ones. But against the Buccaneers — after averaging 114.0 yards rushing in his previous four games — Frank Gore ran for a season-low 23 yards in 12 carries … against the 31st-ranked run defense.
Things are even more dismal for the Cardinals, who are in the midst of their longest losing streak since dropping eight in a row in 2006. They are in danger of finishing worse than .500 for the first time in the Whisenhunt era.
"This is getting old," quarterback Derek Anderson said. "We've just got to find a way, dig deep, continue to keep working the way we have been working."