The San Francisco 49ers have all but locked up a playoff spot, needing a win or an Arizona loss to clinch a fifth or sixth seed. It begs to question, then, where they will be seeded — and which seed would provide the best chance for advancing in the playoffs.
The 49ers will not win the NFC West. Mathematically, if the Seattle Seahawks lose their remaining two games and San Francisco wins theirs, the 49ers would win the division based on division record. Unfortunately, Seattle plays both of their remaining games at CenturyLink Field and should not lose either of them. Losing both seems virtually impossible.
Now for the wild card seeding: Currently the 49ers are the sixth seed in the NFC. However, as the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints each have identical 10-4 records — like San Francisco — and they play each other this Sunday, one of them must end with five losses, thus placing San Francisco as the five seed if the 49ers win out.
The wild card seeding is important for two reasons: first, the sixth seed must go to Seattle, where San Francisco has struggled, in the divisional round, whereas the five seed only would likely need to travel to the northeast. Secondly, and more important, there could be a tremendous difference between the three and four seeds. The luckiest/hottest/most unstoppable team in the NFL right now seems to be, in my opinion, the Green Bay Packers. They will soon get Aaron Rodgers back and, if they win out, will win the NFC North. This would place them as the three or four seed, depending on whether the Philadelphia Eagles lose again. Considering the Eagles play the Chicago Bears and then at the Dallas Cowboys, this seems more than likely. Both the Eagles and Cowboys have been fading recently, and I would much rather play them then the Packers, with Rodgers, at frigid Lambeau Field.
There are a couple of ways the 49ers’ playoff placement could go, and none, of course, is anywhere near solidified yet, but the best — and perhaps most likely — playoff scenario for San Francisco appears to be gaining the five seed and playing either in Dallas or Philadelphia. Either way, the 49ers must win multiple road games to reach what may become another “Ice Bowl” in New Jersey.
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