49ers clinch NFC West, retain top seed after beating Cardinals

Week 15 is going the Niners' way as far as the NFC playoff picture is concerned.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates with wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19)
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates with wide receiver Deebo Samuel (19) / Christian Petersen/GettyImages

45. 42. Final. 29. 32. 49ers Cardinals final score

The 49ers smashed the Cardinals in Week 15, and the victory gives the Niners the NFC West crown for a second year in a row.

Week 14 was a turning point for the San Francisco 49ers, one in which saw head coach Kyle Shanahan's squad pull off a fifth straight victory by beating the Seattle Seahawks and then getting some help from the Dallas Cowboys, who beat the Philadelphia Eagles, whom the Niners defeated back in Week 13.

That sequence of events handed San Francisco the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff picture. With regular-season victories over both Dallas and Philly, all the 49ers need to do is win out to hold onto that top spot, a first-round playoff bye and home-field advantage throughout the postseason.

In Week 15, the first order of business for the Niners was to beat the feisty Arizona Cardinals on the road, which fell into place after quarterback Brock Purdy and Co. pulled off a convincing 45-29 win at State Farm Stadium.

That did two things for San Francisco, both of which are of importance in the postseason.

49ers win NFC West for 2nd year in a row, will have at least 1 home game in playoffs

There are now three more weeks in the regular season for the 49ers, and the remaining teams within the NFC West trail the Niners by at least four-plus game.

That means San Francisco, now at 11-3, has won the NFC West. It's the second consecutive year in which Shanahan's team has done so.

Regardless of what happens from now through Week 18, the 49ers are guaranteed at least one home playoff game by means of winning their division.

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However, the hope is obviously for that top seed. Things are going well for the Niners in that regard, too, not just by beating Arizona either.

Here are the updated standings in the NFC:

  1. San Francisco 49ers (11-3)*
  2. Philadelphia Eagles (10-3)*+
  3. Detroit Lions (10-4)*
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-7)*
  5. Dallas Cowboys (10-4)
  6. Minnesota Vikings (7-7)
  7. Los Angeles Rams (7-7)

* denotes division leader; + plays on Monday night

The Cowboys lost 31-10 to the Buffalo Bills in Week 15, which means San Francisco effectively has a two-game cushion over Dallas in the standings despite only a one-game difference in the win/loss column.

On Monday, the 49ers will (briefly) be Seahawks fans as they host the Eagles for Monday Night Football.

A Hawks win there would present the Niners with an identical cushion as they have over the Cowboys.

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