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NFL playoff picture, Week 13: Thanksgiving storylines and rooting guide for the 49ers

We break down the big story lines for Thanksgiving football in Week 13. The 49ers play Thursday night, but the morning and afternoon feature a pair of NFC matchups. Who are we rooting for on Thanksgiving?

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Happy Thanksgiving! The San Francisco 49ers will face off with the Seattle Seahawks later in the evening, but there are two big games in the morning. We've had a Sunday rooting guide the last few weeks, and we'll have another one this Sunday. However, the Thanksgiving schedule is loaded with NFC teams and playoff implications.

I don't recall the last time the Thanksgiving football schedule had only one conference represented, but this season we get it. Prior to 49ers-Seahawks, the Detroit Lions host the Chicago Bears, and the Dallas Cowboys host the Philadelphia Eagles. Although the Bears are 5-6, two straight wins have them on the edge of the playoff window. They have a ton of work to do, but a win over Detroit would keep their faint playoff hopes alive.

The 49ers just need to keep winning, but they can benefit from today's schedule of games. Here is a quick rundown of the schedule.

1. Philadelphia Eagles at Dallas Cowboys

The 49ers hold the tiebreaker over both of these teams. The tiebreaker does not play out if there are three or more teams tied, but it is still obviously useful to have the victory. Philadelphia has the division record tiebreaker with Dallas, but just like the 49ers and Seahawks, the Eagles and Cowboys face off this week, and then again in two weeks. Much can change during that time.

Rooting interest: I would lean toward rooting for Philadelphia. For purposes of the 49ers making the playoffs, it is a coin toss for who you might want to root for. However, in terms of potentially facing off in the playoffs, I would prefer facing a Mark Sanchez-led Eagles offense over a Tony Romo-led offense. The Eagles have LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin, but the combination of DeMarco Murray and Dez Bryant is a much bigger concern. Go Eagles.

2. Chicago Bears at Detroit Lions

The Lions were pounded by the Patriots last week, and now find themselves a game back of Green Bay. Now they welcome a Bears squad that has won two straight over the Vikings and Buccaneers. Those are not the most inspiring of victories, but maybe they give the Bears some momentum.

Rooting interest: The Lions are currently in seventh, holding the conference win percentage tiebreaker over the 49ers (5-2 vs. 6-3). The Bears are 5-6, but even though a win keeps them hanging around, I'd be down for dropping Detroit a full game back of San Francisco.

NFC standings

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-2)
2. Green Bay Packers (8-3)
3. Philadelphia eagles (8-3)
4. Atlanta Falcons (4-7)

5. Dallas Cowboys (8-3)
6. Seattle Seahawks (7-4)

7. Detroit Lions (7-4)
8. San Francisco 49ers (7-4)
9. Chicago Bears (5-6)