What 49ers win vs. Vikings in Week 12 says about potential playoff push

Jauan Jennings #15 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Deebo Samuel #19 (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)
Jauan Jennings #15 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates with Deebo Samuel #19 (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images) /

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The 49ers game against the Vikings was as close to a must-win as a regular-season game this early could be, and Niner Noise breaks down its implication.

When the season started, the San Francisco 49ers could have been reasonably considered plausible Super Bowl contenders, and certainly playoff contenders. As they rustled off a series of poor performances in their four-game losing streak, they looked more like a completely disconnected and disjointed team.

And now, at 6-5, playoff hopes are alive and well.

As far as Week 12 games go in terms of tangible importance, this Niners game versus the visiting Minnesota Vikings was perhaps one of the most important they’ve ever played. Sure, they’ve played rivals while trying to prove something, or showcasing their ability, but this game against the Vikings was critical in terms of how it could affect the playoff race.

As a quick refresher, heading into Week 12, the Los Angeles Rams were the fifth seed in the NFC playoff picture with a record of 7-4, two games up on the 49ers who had a record of 5-5. The Niners entered the week out of the playoffs, at the No. 8 seed despite being tied with the Vikings and New Orleans Saints, and just half a game ahead of the 5-6 Philadelphia Eagles.

49ers win over Vikings has huge implications on NFC playoff picture

The Saints lost on Thanksgiving, pushing them to 5-6, and with their quarterback situation in disarray, potentially creating a distance at which they would be unable to catch. They’re currently in the No. 9 seed and out of the playoff seeding after Week 12.

Meanwhile, the Eagles lost against the New York Giants, putting them at 5-7, and the 49ers beat the Vikings by a score of 34-26, flipping the standings and putting the Niners into the No. 6 seed.

Minnesota, meanwhile, drops to the No. 7 spot.

  1. Arizona Cardinals: 9-2
  2. Green Bay Packers: 9-3
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: 8-3
  4. Dallas Cowboys: 7-4
  5. Los Angeles Rams: 7-4
  6. San Francisco 49ers: 6-5
  7. Minnesota Vikings: 7-6

Heading into Week 12, San Francisco had a 59.8 percent chance of making the postseason, according to Football Outsiders. Now, the team has a 72 percent chance, per 538.com, and even with a loss to the scuffling Seattle Seahawks in Week 13, the 49ers would still have a 50 percent chance, roughly.

In contrast, had the Niners lost their Week 12 game against Minnesota, it would have put them at 27 percent, according to the Sacramento Bee’s Chris Biderman.

That’s a substantial difference.

With the win, San Francisco now holds a tiebreaker against a likely competitor for a Wild Card spot, has pulled to within a game with the Rams (which means if they keep pace with the Rams and beat them Week 18, they’d win the tiebreaker), and have distanced themselves from the other opposition.

A few weeks ago, talking playoffs was crazy. Now, it’s all in the air.

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