SF 49ers vs. LA Rams: Why Week 12 is so crucial for playoff seeding

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Sean Mannion (14) against the San Francisco 49ers Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Sean Mannion (14) against the San Francisco 49ers Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The SF 49ers visit the LA Rams in Week 12 in a match that could have massive implications for both the NFC West and NFL playoffs.

Perhaps the SF 49ers don’t make the NFL playoffs this season. But if they do, pulling off a win over the NFC West-leading LA Rams in Week 12 is almost a necessity.

As things stand now, the 4-6 Niners have a 4.6-percent chance of making the postseason, according to Football Outsiders, and their chances of winning the division stand at a stark 0.3 percent.

All those injuries and the upset losses to the Arizona Cardinals, Philadelphia Eagles and Miami Dolphins earlier this season loom large now.

Meanwhile, the Rams pulled off a thrilling win on Monday Night Football over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to ensure they remained atop the NFC West after beating the second-place Seattle Seahawks the previous week.

For now, the NFC playoff picture is as follows:

  1. New Orleans Saints (8-2)
  2. LA Rams (7-3)
  3. Green Bay Packers (7-3)
  4. Philadelphia Eagles (3-6-1)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (7-3)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
  7. Arizona Cardinals (6-4)

San Francisco, on the outside and looking in, entered Week 12 as the No. 11 seed and will have to overcome the Detroit Lions, Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears in the standings to at least have a shot at a final Wild Card spot.

All those teams, however, are within one game of each other, meaning a Week 12 win over the LA Rams would improve the SF 49ers’ chances dramatically.

And while it seems farfetched to assume the Niners can catch the Rams in the standings, San Francisco’s Week 6 win over LA could prove to be a vital piece as a tiebreaker when combined with a would-be win again in Week 12.

The NFC West is that close, especially if the SF 49ers go on a hot streak down the stretch while the Rams falter. That could be the determining factor between a third- or fourth-place finish in the division, potentially shaking up the pecking order in the NFL playoff picture.

SF 49ers can still embrace the spoiler role

If we’re being honest here, it’s probably best to admit the Niners aren’t going to sneak into the back end of the postseason standings. There’s hope, yes. But it’s dim.

Instead, one might better look at San Francisco as spoilers from here on out. And that could start as early as Week 12.

Granted, no SF 49ers fan wants to see Seattle win the NFC West. But the Rams are arguably a close second in that inter-division discussion. Yet few Niners fans feel that animosity towards the Cardinals, right?

San Francisco beating the Rams in Week 12, combined with a Cardinals win over the New England Patriots, would put the latter two teams’ records at 7-4. The Rams and Cardinals haven’t played each other yet, so their pending matchups in Weeks 13 and 17 carry plenty of implications already.

But Arizona is already 2-1 within the division, while Los Angeles is 1-1, meaning the above scenario would give the Cardinals the initial seeding tiebreaker if the playoffs were to start in Week 13.

They won’t, of course. But hopefully, you get the point.

dark. Next. 3 injured 49ers who are desperately needed after Week 11 bye

And everyone else in the division would be more than hoping to see the Seahawks lose to the Eagles on Monday Night Football to wrap up Week 12, too.