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NFL playoff picture: 49ers gain ground on Falcons

We break down the NFC playoff picture, and what the next two weeks look like for the 49ers.

The San Francisco 49ers pulled out a pretty big 27-13 win over the Miami Dolphins on Sunday (recap video below), and in doing so maintained their hold on the No. 2 seed in the NFC. The NFL regular season has three weeks left, and the NFC playoff picture is still a long way from being sorted out. We have a few good ideas of who will probably be playing in January (and February). Check out the video above for a breakdown of the playoff picture.

As it currently stands, the Atlanta Falcons are the only NFC team to clinch a playoff berth. However, they struggled in Carolina yesterday and fell to 11-2. The 49ers sit 1.5 games back of the Falcons, while remaining a half game ahead of the Green Bay Packers and a game and a half ahead of the Seahawks. Here are the playoff standings following a competed week of NFC action

1. Atlanta Falcons (11-2)
2. San Francisco 49ers (9-3-1)
3. Green Bay Packers (9-4)
4. New York Giants (8-5)
5. Seattle Seahawks (8-5)
6. Chicago Bears (8-5)

Washington Redskins (7-6)
Dallas Cowboys (7-6)
Minnesota Vikings (7-6)
St. Louis Rams (6-6-1)

While the 49ers playoff hopes remain strong, their eventual seeding is far from assured. The 49ers face a tough stretch the next two weeks, traveling to the Patriots and Seahawks. The 49ers could lock up the two seed in that time, or they could theoretically drop as far as the six seed. That's a potentially wild swing. Here are the game that matter as we look to the next two critical weeks:

49ers: @ New England (9-3), @ Seattle (8-5)

Seahawks: @ Buffalo (5-8), vs. San Francisco (9-3-1)

Packers: @ Chicago (8-5), vs. Tennessee (4-9)

Every game on the schedule is important, but some portions of the schedule are a little more important than others. It is safe to say this is one such stretch.