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Getting an Early Look at the NFC Playoffs

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I read somewhere that the 49ers' magic number is one and I lapsed into a mental coma of sorts. I tried to do my homework - and Italo Calvino's The Nonexistent Knight is truly a delight and worth the read - but I just couldn't shake it. For the last couple of weeks I have allowed myself to commit what would have been a NN cardinal sin the last few years: I openly admitted to my own brain that the Niners are going to the playoffs.

Cue the necessary reservations about it's not over ‘tils its over thing. Considered this post reservationed. But honestly, the 49ers are going to the playoffs: I just didn't realize until today what that really meant, and now because I read some stupid phrase about one and magic numbers, I am all over this idea. In the immortal words of the most annoying girl on the planet: We so excited.

I really wanted to watch this Monday Night Football showdown between the Giants and Saints, then, to get a sense of what teams could be up and coming on the 49ers' horizon. I was impressed with both teams, though the Giants did get a bit shoved around. Alright, more than a bit. It was like a Charizard fighting a Magikarp: sure, technically a fire wouldn't beat a water in most circumstances, but the Giants' offense was nothing more than a splash, leading to no effect.

That said, I was more interested in watching the Saints anyways, since we played the Giants recently. I won't say too much about this game as it was the first Saints game I have watched this season and I don't have a great feel for the team, but there is something incredible about Drew Brees.

Well-earned adoration and postseason speculation after the jump.

On one pass play to a player I am going to call Mr. F (because I don't remember who it actually was, and, well, I'm all about British people recently), Brees delivered a perfect pass. Mr. F had to go down and to snag the ball, but that was because he was pretty much giving the defender a piggy back ride. Anywhere else, and the defender, Barry Zuckerkorn I think it was, could have gotten to it. The play went for a first down.

On another play, Brees went back to pass, looked deep, and released. I sort of sat up straight in my chair and let out a weird "there's a touchdown." In actual fact, the ball was tipped at the line of scrimmage and sort of Shaun Hill'd its way to the ground. I felt like an idiot, until the next play when Brees looked deep and throw a pass to the two yard line, or something.

That's the weird thing about Brees: his passes seem to pop out of the pocket. I think it is because he is so short (I know, right? I had never ever heard that he was until tonight too) that when the ball comes out from behind the big men on the line it just looks a bit different. I find it fascinating to watch.

But this is the type of player that we may have to beat in the playoffs: a man whose throws are so elegant that he can get a casual watcher to just assume he will throw a touchdown just by looking deep. This post isn't about whether or not we can stop somebody like this (pro-tip: we can. For as much crap as our secondary gets - and I haven't sure been keeping my crap under lock and key - we have looked way better all season than the Giants did tonight, and the Saints too), rather this post is about looking ahead.

So, everybody, click on this link and follow it to the nfl.com "what if the playoffs ended today" page they have. Get acquainted with that information. Take your time. I'll wait. Go on.

(So, uh, Edggy's girlfriend. You're looking mighty fine today. I like your shirt. Hold still so I can read it. What's it say: "Go...!! Niners...!!...!!" Oh that's nice. You and Edggy must have a lot in common).

Oh hey, you guys are back. Cool.

So going off the scenario this page presents, let's be honest, the Saints are clearly the most frightening team we would play after the wildcard. I would much rather play the quarterback-less Bears, that's for sure. After that, probably the Falcons and then the Cowboys.

Honestly, though, I think the Lions sneaking in would scare me more than the Falcons or the Cowboys, which is weird. Don't get me wrong; I would love to see Harbaugh beat Schwartz again and then go vomit on him after the game or something totally wacky. Maybe he could shake his hand and curl his index finger up, rubbing Schwartz's palm in a really creepy way. That wouldn't show up on camera, though, so Schwartz's face and inevitable overreaction would be priceless.

Seriously, though, the Lions really scare me - if I had to pick the one team I wouldn't want to face (besides Green Bay) in the postseason, they might be it. Obviously, as discussed above, the Saints are also on my "shoulda put on more deoderent list." So they are pretty scary, though not "need a new pair of pants" scary.

What about you guys? Rank away. If you can find a way that somehow gets the Redskins and the Eagles into the playoffs as well, that would be really cool too. They would be fun teams to have to play.