NFL playoff picture: 49ers find out their fate on Decision Day

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

We break down the NFC playoff picture heading into the final Sunday of the regular season, and what the 49ers are dealing with in their playoff pursuit.

The 2012 NFL regular season comes to a close today, which means the playoff picture finally shakes out. We won't know every single detail until the close of Sunday Night Football, but we will know by 4:30 p.m. PT whether or not the 49ers will be playing a week from now, or getting a first round bye.

Here is how the NFC playoff picture looks heading into today's games:

1. Atlanta Falcons: 13-2
3. Green Bay Packers: 11-4
2. San Francisco 49ers: 10-4-1
4. Washington Redskins 9-6
5. Seattle Seahawks: 10-5
6. Minnesota Vikings 9-6

7. Chicago Bears: 9-6
8. Dallas Cowboys 8-7
9. New York Giants: 8-7

The Falcons are the only team that is locked into their position heading into Week 17. They host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers today, and I suspect they will end up resting their starters at some point.

The rest of the bracket is up for grabs with some big matchups. Here are the pertinent NFC games:

Bears (9-6) @ Lions (4-11)
Eagles (4-11) @ Giants (8-7)
Packers (11-4) @ Vikings (9-6)
Rams (7-7-1) @ Seahawks (10-5)
Cowboys (8-7) @ Redskins (9-6)

For the 49ers, here are the possible results:

1. Win OR Seahawks loss = NFC West champs
2. Win AND Packers loss = 49ers first round bye
3. Loss AND Seahawks loss = NFC West champs, No. 3 seed
4. Loss AND Seahawks win = Wild card, No. 5 seed

If the 49ers win the division but do not get the first round bye, they would face the No. 6 seed. Right now that is the Vikings. Mike Sando broke down who could get each of the seeds in great detail. For the 49ers, combinations of wins and losses around the NFC would result in them facing one of the Vikings, Bears, Giants or Redskins.

Aside from a 49ers win, we want a Packers loss, badly. The 49ers are in the playoffs no matter what, but that bye would be huge. It would give Justin Smith and Vernon Davis time to get back to 100%, and it would give the 49ers some time to just get their heads on straight before the playoffs.

NFL Network's Scott Hanson posted this tweet and picture showing the 64 possible NFC combinations that could play out tomorrow. We will know for sure if the Bears and Giants are out by the time the 49ers get going, but we won't if they are in thanks to all the important games going down at 1:25 p.m. PT. Add in the huge NFC East showdown on Sunday Night Football, and it should be a crazy Sunday.

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