The San Francisco 49ers were not technically in a must-win situation in Week 14, but their chances in the NFL playoff picture would have gotten a lot fuzzier with a loss. The 49ers instead handled their business against the Seattle Seahawks, and improved to 9-4. Their win combined with the Carolina Panther's loss moves them into a tie in the wildcard race. The Panthers hold the tiebreaker with their win over San Francisco, but things are a lot more bunched up.
Week 14 wraps up on Monday Night Football with the Chicago Bears hosting the Dallas Cowboys. A Dallas win moves them back on top of the NFC East with the tiebreaker. A loss drops them one back of the Eagles, and two back of the wildcard race. Here are the playoff standings heading into Monday Night Football.
No. 1 Seattle Seahawks 11-2 (NFC West leader)
No. 2 New Orleans Saints 10-3 (NFC South leader)
No. 3 Philadelphia Eagles 8-5 (NFC East leader)
No. 4 Detroit Lions 7-6 (NFC North leader)
No. 5 Carolina Panthers 9-4 (Wild Card)
No. 6 San Francisco 49ers 9-4 (Wild Card)
Week 15 schedule
49ers @ Buccaneers - This game is no gimme. The Bucs have won four of five, and they're playing well enough to be dangerous. And of course, this is also the 49ers only real 10 a.m. PT start. The London game was a 10 a.m. PT start, but given the travel and whatnot, it's not quite the same.
Bears @ Browns - The Bears will still be in the playoff race next week, but the value of this game will really depend on how Monday Night Football turns out. A Bears win over the Cowboys, and this game is a whole lot more interesting.
Eagles @ Vikings - At the very least, Philadelphia will head into this game tied for first in the NFC East. If the Cowboys lose on MNF, Philadelphia will be playing looking to maintain sole possession of first. Right now, I'm fine just rooting for the Cowboys to keep losing.
Seahawks @ Giants - I always enjoy the day when the Giants are officially out of the playoff race and that happened on Sunday. Now, they get to play spoiler. The Seahawks remain overwhelming favorites to win the division, but a loss to the Giants leaves the door open ever so slightly for the 49ers.
A Seahawks win clinches the division and a first-round bye. A Seahawks win and a Saints loss clinches home field throughout the NFC playoffs. A Seahawks win does not clinch the division if the 49ers win, but with two home games remaining, it all but seals it.
Jets @ Panthers - The Panthers struggled in New Orleans, but given how the Saints play in the Superdome, that's not a shock. The Panthers will look to bounce back against the wildly inconsistent Jets. A Panthers loss and a 49ers win moves the 49ers into the No. 5 seed.
Packers @ Cowboys - Green Bay pulled out a big comeback, and their season remains alive. They are a half game back of the Lions, and have bought another week to get Aaron Rodgers back. The Cowboys situation depends on their performance in Monday Night Football.
Cardinals @ Titans - The Cardinals remain a game back of the 49ers and Panthers, but more importantly, Arizona holds the tiebreaker over the Panthers. It wouldn't necessarily matter if the 49ers, Cardinals and Panthers all end up tied, but it could get interesting in the coming weeks.
Saints @ Rams - New Orleans bounced back with a big home win, but now they head back on the road. The Rams have been inconsistent all season long, but they can put a scare in teams. This could be a lot more interesting than many might expect.
Ravens @ Lions - Week 15 Monday Night Football features two teams battling for playoff spots, and this will be a big one for both teams. The NFC North is a mess, and Bears-Cowboys on Monday Night Football will have its say in just what this game means.