No. 1: SF 49ers will benefit from a last-place schedule in 2021
Despite their Week 16 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the SF 49ers will finish last place in the NFC West after enduring a first-place 2020 schedule from their division-clinching placement from 2019.
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Outside of their division, the Niners will play the NFC North and AFC South in 2021, which means regularly scheduled games against likely rebuilding teams in the ilk of the Jacksonville Jaguars, Detroit Lions and Houston Texans, while the Minnesota Vikings and Chicago Bears could also be undergoing some major changes from top to bottom next year.
But those two extra-scheduled games — one against an NFC South team and another against an NFC East team — will be against last-place opponents, potentially the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, depending how Week 17 pans out.
Either way, those should shake up to two winnable games from San Francisco’s vantage point.
This sets the context for a much better record for the SF 49ers in 2021, especially when paired with the likelihood the NFC West will regress a bit next year.
And if that’s enough, the Niners could bounce back in prime contention for another playoff berth after what’s been a frustrating and largely forgettable 2020 campaign.