After a Thanksgiving night loss to the Baltimore Ravens, the San Francisco 49ers get to do a bit of scoreboard watching today. The 49ers took a hit on Thursday, but they remain in solid positioning moving into the final five games of the season. They hold a 4 1/2 game lead over the Seahawks in the NFC West and a 1 1/2 game lead over the New Orleans Saints for the second first round bye.
This week's NFL schedule features a few important games for the 49ers playoff positioning. The 49ers can't clinch anything, but wins and losses will set up next week. The Seahawks host the Washington Redskins while the New Orleans Saints host the New York Giants. There are other interesting games, but those are the two that have the most bearing for the 49ers.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Washington Redskins: The Seahawks have won two straight with wins at St. Louis and at home against Baltimore. They are starting a three game homestand against the Redskins, Eagles and Rams. Given their home field advantage, Seattle could very well emerge from this stretch at 7-6. The 49ers control their own destiny in terms of taking home the NFC West, but every additional loss helps. Although, maybe it might be nice to have another division rival in the battle for a wild card spot.
New Orleans Saints vs. New York Giants: The Saints can cut the 49ers lead for the second first round bye down to a single game with a win over the Giants. The first tiebreaker is conference record though, and the Saints sit at 4-3 in conference while the 49ers are 7-1. So basically, the Saints could be considered two back of the 49ers.
St. Louis Rams vs. Arizona Cardinals: This doesn't have much bearing on the NFC West race at this point, but it is a divisional game so it is still worth considering. The Cardinals were on a bit of a hot-streak having won two straight, but they were defeated by the 49ers fairly handily last week to slow that down. They are looking to get back even with the Seahawks for second place.