The San Francisco 49ers are coming out of Week 12 having absolutely demolished the Green Bay Packers on Sunday Night Football. With a little more than a month left in the NFL regular season, let’s take a look at the the Niners’ playoff outlook.
The 49ers held the Packers, the team with the second best record in the NFC at the time and quarterback Aaron Rodgers, to eight points. Yes, the Aaron Rodgers, the quarterback many consider to be the most talented to ever play the position.
San Francisco’s defense held him to 104 passing yards and sacked him five times.
Meanwhile, the 49ers offense rolled, piling up 37 points. It wasn’t even the offense’s best night. But it didn’t matter. The Niners made a statement on Sunday night: They are the team to beat in the NFC, and possibly the entire NFL.
For the first time since former head coach Jim Harbaugh left in 2015, the 49ers are true Super Bowl contenders. Breathe that in, Niner fans, bathe in it. We can now say the Niners will win the Super Bowl and not be laughed at.
In fact, it’s probably safe to laugh at people who disagree with that at this point. What a time to be alive!
Now that you’ve soaked in the glory that is the 2019 San Francisco 49ers season, let’s take a look at the 49ers’ NFL playoffs outlook.
The Niners currently have the No. 1 playoff seed in the NFC. They have the best record, and if the regular season ended today, they would have a first-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Unfortunately, the season does not end today.
The 49ers have one of the hardest schedules in NFL history between Weeks 12 to 14, though. They defeated the first leg of the gauntlet when they crushed the Packers, but the next two weeks will likely be much more difficult. In Week 14, the Niners play the 9-2 Baltimore Ravens, who enjoyed their own drubbing of the Los Angeles Rams on Monday Night Football. The Ravens have been dominating opposing teams in recent weeks, and their quarterback, Lamar Jackson, is the favorite to win the NFL MVP award at this point, according to the Action Network.
Jackson is like nothing the Niners have faced this season. He is having one of the greatest and most exciting seasons in NFL history. He is possibly the greatest quarterback rusher of all time, in his second year in the league, and makes defenders look like they’re on skates. So far this season, no opposing defense has been able to slow him down.
The 49ers will have their hands full trying to stop Jackson and beat the Ravens.
The next week, the 49ers take on the New Orleans Saints. The Saints are one of the teams tied for the second best record in the NFC, at 9-2. The Saints have been one of the NFL’s elite teams for years, and will be another strong challenge to the Niners dominance.
San Francisco then finishes out the season against the Atlanta Falcons, followed by the Rams and the Seattle Seahawks. But truly, the Niners are matched up against the Seahawks for the entire rest of the season.
Allow me to explain.
The Seahawks are the team which truly stands in the way of the Niners and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs. The Seahawks are tied for the second best record in the NFC at 9-2. However, they are in the same division as the 49ers, the NFC West. Because of how the NFL playoffs work, the Seahawks are the five seed in the playoffs, despite having the second best record. This is because the first four spots go to the division leaders.
So, if the 49ers want to keep the No. 1 seed in the NFC, and more importantly, the bye and home-field advantage that go with it, they need to maintain the lead of the division. And this is going to be a challenging thing to do. Since the Seahawks currently hold the tiebreaker advantage over the 49ers because of their head-to-head victory in Week 10, if the two teams have a tie record, the Seahawks would have the one seed.
While the 49ers are basically locked in as a playoff team, home-field advantage can make all the difference in January. So, because of the Seahawks, the Niners cannot afford to take their foot off the gas down the stretch. The Seahawks’ schedule is nowhere near as challenging as the 49ers’, but it is not impossible the Niners will need to win out to keep the No. 1 seed.
In fact, it seems likely the No. 1 seed could come down to the 49ers-Seahawks rematch in Seattle in Week 17.
Luckily, this 49ers team truly is something special. The defense is one of the best the NFL has ever seen, the run game is unstoppable and quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo is beginning to play at a truly elite level, while also stepping into his role as a leader. This Niners team has all the pieces to make a deep postseason run, but as always seems to be the case, they will have to defeat their longtime divisional rival in order to do so.