The 49ers head into Week 15 with an opportunity to clinch the NFC West, and several opportunities to clinch a wildcard berth, even if they were to lose. There are quite a few playoff implications across the Week 15 NFC schedule, but for the 49ers, the only things that matter are a win for them and a loss for the Seahawks. The 49ers "control their own destiny" (as much as someone can control "destiny"), so just keep on winning!
If the 49ers beat the Patriots and the Seahawks lose to the Bills, the 49ers win the NFC West. Here are the scenarios for clinching at least a wild card berth. This is an OR proposition, so it's 1 or 2 or 3 or etc:
1. 49ers Win
2. 49ers tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + MIN loss or tie
3. 49ers tie + DAL loss or tie + WAS loss or tie + GB-CHI does not end in tie
4. 49ers tie + DAL loss or tie + MIN loss or tie + Chicago loss
5. 49ers tie + NYG loss or + MIN loss or tie + Chi loss
6. 49ers lose + MIN loss + DAL loss + WAS loss + SEA loss or tie
Here is how the NFC playoff picture currently stands heading into Week 15's Sunday matchups:
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
7. Washington Redskins 7-6
8. Dallas Cowboys 7-6
9. Minnesota Vikings 7-6
10. St. Louis Rams 6-6-1
Monday Night Football features the Titans an the Jets (seriously?!), so we'll know by the end of the day where the 49ers stand heading into Week 16. Here is the rest of the playoff-pertinent NFC schedule for Week 15:
Giants (8-5) @ Falcons (11-2)
Packers (9-4) @ Bears (8-5)
Redskins (7-6) @ Browns
Vikings (7-6) @ Rams (6-6-1)
Buccaneers (6-7) @ Saints (5-8)
Seahawks (8-5) @ Bills
Steelers @ Cowboys (7-6)
Most of the rooting interests are fairly simply. Aside from the 49ers winning and the Seahawks losing, I'd imagine we want to see the Giants upend the Falcons since that would further open the door for the No. 1 seed. At the same time, if the Giants lose and the Redskins and/or Cowboys win, the Giants drop out of the divisional lead because of the NFC East record tiebreaker. I kind of wouldn't mind seeing that happen. So really, whatever happens in this game, we're all winners! Well, except a tie I suppose.
We want to see the Bears beat the Packers, since with a 49ers win that would drop the Packers back to 1.5 back of the 49ers with two to play. The Packers could very well end up completely hosed by the Golden Taint, when the Seahawks won thanks to a horrible call by the replacement refs. If they had won that game, the Packers would currently be ahead of the 49ers by half a game.
Rams vs. Vikings doesn't really bother me too much one way or the other, so I am leaning towards rooting for the divisional team. Technically the Rams can finish ahead of the 49ers if the 49ers lose out and the Rams win out, so maybe we should just root for the Vikings. Of course, if that's what ends up happening, the 49ers don't really deserve to go to the playoffs in such a situation.
As far as the Redskins and Cowboys are concerned, I think it's much easier pulling for the Redskins than the Cowboys. I realize that's generally seen as common sense, but I figured it was worth mentioning.