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NFL playoff scenarios: Seahawks, Saints, Panthers all with clinching opportunities in Week 14

The 49ers can improve their playoff positioning with a win over the Seahawks Sunday, but they cannot clinch yet. We break down some of the playoff clinching implications for Week 14.

Stephen Lam

Last night, the Seattle Seahawks became the first team to clinch a playoff spot. Their win over the New Orleans Saints ensures they'll be playing in January, and also just about sews up the top seed in the NFC. As Week 14 approaches, the Seahawks can add to that. If the Seahawks beat or tie our 49ers, they will clinch the NFC West and a first round bye.

The New Orleans Saints and Carolina Panthers square off at the Superdome, which means the Seahawks best case scenario means waiting one more week to clinch the top seed. Ideally the 49ers will handle their business on Sunday and push all of this off for another week.

The Saints and Panthers can each clinch a playoff spot with a win and some help. As it currently stands, the Saints will clinch a playoff spot with a win plus losses by the Eagles, Cowboys and Cardinals. I'll leave the tie scenarios out because they're so unlikely, and it's just too messy. The Panthers can clinch with a win and losses by the 49ers, Cardinals, Eagles and Cowboys.

We don't pay a lot of attention to the AFC, but clinching scenarios exist there as well. The Broncos can clinch with a win OR a Dolphins loss OR a Ravens loss. The Chiefs can clinch with a win plus a Dolphins OR Ravens loss. The Patriots can clinch the AFC East with a win and a Dolphins loss. They can clinch a playoff berth with a win and a Ravens loss. Finally, the Colts can clinch the AFC South with a win OR a Titans loss.

The 49ers are a ways away from clinching anything, but they would obviously help themselves with a win over the Seahawks on Sunday. We'll have a rooting guide Sunday morning, but it's a pretty easy one this week. The Philadelphia Eagles host the Detroit Lions, and the Arizona Cardinals host the St. Louis Rams. We're pulling for road dogs this week!