The NFL released the latest round of playoff scenarios for Week 16, and it's pretty simple for the San Francisco 49ers. If the 49ers win on Monday OR the Arizona Cardinals lose on Sunday, the 49ers clinch a playoff spot. They also get in if both teams tie, but I think we can safely assume that probably will not happen.
If the 49ers win next Monday, they will also move into the No. 5 seed. The 49ers are currently tied with the Carolina Panthers and New Orleans Saints at 10-4. The Panthers and Saints square off in Charlotte this Sunday. If the 49ers win on Monday, the loser of Panthers-Saints drops a game behind San Francisco. If they happen to tie, both teams drop a half game back of the 49ers in the standings (although one remains ahead in the playoff picture as division winner).
Although there are some longshots, the 49ers can finish in one of four seeding positions if they clinch a playoff berth. NinerEd did a good job spelling them out in the comments of a recent FanPost. Check out his comment for more detail, but basically, It breaks down as follows:
No. 1 seed: 49ers win out, Seahawks lose out, NO-CAR winner drops season finale
No. 2 seed: 49ers win out, Seahawks lose out, NO-CAR winner wins season finale, claims top seed by virtue of head-to-head win over 49ers
No. 5 seed: 49ers win out, Seattle wins at least one of remaining games, doesn't matter how NO-CAR loser does in season finale
No. 6 seed: 49ers lose one of two remaining games
And for people who prefer a little doom and gloom, the 49ers would not make the playoffs if they lose out and the Cardinals beat the Seahawks on the road, and the 49ers at home.
Here are your other NFC playoff scenarios in Week 16:
- Clinch NFC West and home field advantage in playoffs with win OR 49ers loss
New Orleans Saints
- Clinch NFC South and first round bye with win;
- Clinch playoff berth with Cardinals loss
- Clinch playoff berth with win OR 49ers/Cardinals losses
- Clinch NFC East with win + Dallas loss
- Clinch NFC North with win + Detroit loss + Green Bay loss