NFL playoff picture, Week 14: 49ers continue pursuit of playoff berth

Kirby Lee-US PRESSWIRE

We break down the current NFC playoff picture as the 49ers prepare for the Dolphins in Week 14.

The San Francisco 49ers welcome the Miami Dolphins to town in Week 14, with a slim chance to secure a playoff berth on Sunday. The 49ers sit at 8-3-1 and can secure a wild card berth with a victory over the Dolphins, and one of the following two scenarios:

1. Cowboys loss, Vikings loss, Buccaneers loss, Redskins loss, Rams loss/tie

OR

2. Cowboys loss, Vikings loss, Buccaneers loss, Redskins loss, Seahawks loss/tie

Here is how the NFC playoff picture currently stands heading into Week 14's Sunday matchups:

1. Atlanta Falcons: 11-1
2. San Francisco 49ers: 8-3-1
3. Green Bay Packers: 8-4
4. New York Giants: 7-5
5. Chicago Bears: 8-4
6. Seattle Seahawks: 7-5

7. Washington Redskins 6-6
8. Dallas Cowboys 6-6
9. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 6-6
10. Minnesota Vikings 6-6

WIth a Texans-Patriots Monday Night Football matchup, we'll know what's what with the NFC by the close of Sunday Night Football. We know plenty about 49ers-Dolphins, so here is the rest of the NFC schedule for Week 14:

Rams (5-6-1) @ Bills
Cowboys (6-6) @ Bengals
Bears (8-4) @ Vikings (6-6)
Eagles (3-9) @ Buccaneers (6-6)
Ravens @ Redskins (6-6)
Falcons (11-1) @ Panthers (3-9)
Saints (5-7) @ Giants (7-5)
Cardinals (4-8) @ Seahawks (7-5)
Lions (4-8) @ Packers (8-4)

As I mentioned earlier this week, while a playoff berth is great, I am really most concerned about seeing the 49ers win and the Seahawks lose. If that happens, the 49ers would take a 2 1/2 game lead on the Seahawks with three games to go. That creates some breathing room heading into next weekend's Patriots game.

A Vikings loss to the Bears helps the 49ers inch toward a playoff spot, but a Bears win keeps them a half game back of the 49ers in that battle with the Packers for the second first round bye. Consider me rooting for the Vikings to grab this victory. That, combined with a Lions win over the Packers would give the 49ers some additional breathing room, as well.

Other than those games, I'd say we're rooting for the Bengals to beat the Cowboys (always beat Dallas!), the Redskins to beat the Ravens and the Saints to beat the Giants. I suggest rooting for the Redskins because I think we would all prefer to see the Giants drop out of the division lead and be forced to go on the road in the first round as a wild card team, if not miss the playoffs entirely. If Washington and/or Dallas wins and the Giants lose, the Giants would actually drop behind both teams because of a worse divisional record (NYG split their games with both teams). I suppose you could also root for the Cowboys on Sunday, but we know that just won't happen.

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