The 49ers win over the Saints was more than enough to further secure their position in the NFC playoff picture, but the team benefited from some poor performances and late breaking news last night surrounding the Seahawks. There is a lot of football left to be played, but the 49ers are moving in the right direction to secure a playoff spot and a potential first round bye.
The 49ers win over the Saints allowed them to keep hold of the No. 2 seed. They remain a half game over the Chicago Bears, who handled the Minnesota Vikings with relative ease. The 49ers also gained a game on the Green Bay Packers who were crushed by the New York Giants. The Packers now drop a game back behind the Bears, so for now, the Bears are the concern in the playoff chase. The 49ers maintain a game and a half lead on the Giants as well. The head-to-head and conference record tiebreakers really aren't a concern for the 49ers at this point since it is unlikely that we will see any more ties this season.
The big story yesterday came late in the afternoon as Adam Schefter reported that Seahawks cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner are both facing suspensions for a positive test for performance enhancing drugs. The early scuttlebutt is that this involves positive tests for Adderall, although as should be expected, Sherman has declared he is not worried and the truth will come out. The appeals reportedly could be heard as early as this week, so we should have resolution sooner rather than later.
Even if the suspensions are overturned, the 49ers gained a key game as the Seahawks dropped a late 24-21 decision to the Dolphins. The Seahawks continue to struggle on the road, and with a road game against the Bears coming up in Week 13, they could find themselves fading fast.
Monday Night Football kicks off later tonight, but with the Panthers and Eagles out of the playoff chase, here are the current NFC playoff standings:
1. Atlanta Falcons (10-1)
2. San Francisco 49ers (8-2-1)
3. Chicago Bears (8-3)
4. New York Giants (7-4)
5. Green Bay Packers (7-4)
6. Seattle Seahawks (6-5)
Minnesota Vikings (6-5)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (6-5)
Washington Redskins (5-6)
Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
New Orleans Saints (5-6)
Week 13 provides some opportunities for a bit of separation, although a few upsets could tighten things up considerably. The Vikings travel to Green Bay to face the Packers and the Seahawks travel to face the Bears. The Buccaneers head off to face the Denver Broncos and of course, our 49ers travel to face the St. Louis Rams.
The 49ers cannot clinch a playoff spot in Week 13 because of that infernal tie, but they have the opportunity to climb to half a game away from clinching the NFC West.