After the 49ers ugly beating at the hands of the San Diego Chargers on Thursday Night Football, any talk of NFL playoff scenarios is certain to induce a need to drink heavily. The 49ers didn't really control their own destiny heading into the game, but their destiny is even less certain after that beating. Now, the 49ers can be eliminated from postseason contention today with a win by the Seahawks and a win by the Rams. The two teams play each other to close out the season, so a win by both makes it impossible for the 49ers to force the divisional tie-breaker scenario that has been much discussed.
Some folks are fine with the playoff hopes coming to an end, while others are looking for another week of wishful thinking (I'm probably in that group). For those of us back in the saddle scoreboard watching and checking out the playoff race, we get a full day to await the 49ers fate. The Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs at 10am today, while the Seahawks host the Falcons at 1pm. If the Rams lose then the 49ers live to fight another day. If the Rams win, we get to wait through the afternoon games.
If we can't get losses by both teams there are distinct opinions as to who folks should be cheering against most. The argument for the Rams to lose is the belief held by howtheyscored that the Seahawks are going to finish out the season with three losses beginning today. I'm not so sure about that given the Seahawks relatively decent play at home this season. They're 4-2 thus far, which isn't spectacular, but given their overall record it makes them at least a little bit dangerous at home. Of course, if they lose today to Atlanta and then have to go to Tampa Bay next week they may be eliminated by the finale and thus not play up to par. So maybe I just talked myself out of preferring a Seattle loss if only can lose.
If the Rams were to win today, they'd move two games up on the 49ers with two to go. They host San Francisco next week and then travel to Seattle to close out the season. I don't have a lot of faith in the 49ers heading into St. Louis and winning next week. However, if the 49ers are going to pull off the what is becoming more and more unlikely, they'll need to beat the Rams no matter what. The Chiefs will be looking to extend their nine-game winning streak against the NFC West and there is a decent chance they'll have Matt Cassel for the game. He's technically a game-time decision, but it sounds like he's feeling better from his appendectomy so we can hope he plays today.
The Chiefs and Falcons are certainly in big need of wins themselves. The Chiefs have a half game lead over San Diego and could use a win to hold serve. The Chiefs and Chargers split this season and they're both 2-3 in the division. If they end up with the same divisional record the next tiebreaker is record against common opponents.
The Falcons could use a win but have a bit more breathing room. They have a one game lead on the Saints but the Falcons already won at New Orleans and the Saints are playing at Baltimore today, which should be a tough game. Baltimore sits a game back of Pittsburgh and tied for the wild card lead so every win is big for them. The Saints-Ravens game could prove to be the most interesting of the day.
Of course, the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants have a huge NFC East showdown. That's going to be the morning game out here in the Bay Area. While I generally get annoyed with all the East Coast football out there, this should be an interesting matchup. Michael Vick is having a re-birth with an MVP caliber season but he faces the number two defense in the NFL today. I'd imagine this game will get a lot of eyeballs across the country.
The Jaguars and Colts will be doing battle in Indy as Jacksonville looks to maintain their lead in the AFC South. The Jaguars won the first game against the Colts in Jacksonville and a loss today would leave them tied for first having split the season series and equal in divisional record. We have to be on pace for some kind of record number of tiebreakers this year.
The Bay Area has its own interesting matchup as the Raiders host one of their rivals in the Denver Broncos. Of course, this is more interesting for a lineup change than anything else. Kyle Orton's arm and rib problems have forced the Broncos to start Tim Tebow in his place. While I wasn't a big Tebow fan when he was Florida, I have to admit I'm curious to see how Tebow does in a true starting role. The Broncos have used him in a variety of packages trying to get him on the field and now he gets a chance to utilize the entire playbook. I'm really intrigued by this and will likely watch the Raiders-Broncos game more than anything else this afternoon.
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