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NFL playoff picture: Recapping Week 9 in advance of Monday Night Football

The Sunday games of Week 9 are officially a wrap. We take a look at the big wins and losses, and how the standings currently look following the 49ers loss to the Rams.

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Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers put together a piss-poor performance on Sunday, dropping a 13-10 game to the St. Louis Rams. The loss drops the 49ers to 4-4, and they now find themselves in third place in the NFC West. They are three games back of the 7-1 Arizona Cardinals, and one game back of the 5-3 Seattle Seahawks. A lot can change over the next eight games, but the 49ers have their work cut out for them.

Week 9 will come to a close on Monday Night Football when the New York Giants host the Indianapolis Colts, but in the meantime, I figured I would break down the rest of the pertinent Week 9 NFL action. We'll have a game thread later in the evening for Monday Night Football. Considering the Giants can move into a tie with the Giants, this is a fairly important game.

This Saints game is kind of a big deal

We'll get to the top of the heap in a bit, but let's start with Thursday Night Football. The New Orleans Saints handled the Carolina Panthers with relative ease this past Thursday, and they have already begun preparations to welcome the 49ers this Sunday. The 49ers are coming off a bad loss to the Rams, and have to turn around and begin preparations for the always tough Superdome. This is not technically a "must-win", but dropping to 4-5 would put the 49ers in a position they would have to come close to running the table the rest of the season, or least winning 6 of 7. Whatever the case, a win in New Orleans would be an essential salve to the 49ers wounds.

The Cardinals just keep handling their business

It took some work, but the Cardinals were finally able to pull away from the Dallas Cowboys, defeating them 28-17. The Cowboys were had to start Brandon Weeden at quarterback, but they still were able to take a 10-0 lead. The Cardinals bounced back to take a 14-10 lead at halftime, and put up 14 more in the fourth quarter. I've seen some folks dogging the Cardinals for struggling to pull away from the Weeden-led Cowboys. While the Cardinals might not have put together a perfect performance, a road win is a road win.

The Cardinals keep on piling up the wins, and have notched victories over the Cowboys, Eagles and 49ers. Until we actually see them lose some games, they are the team to beat the NFC West. I don't know of anybody who was predicting that coming into the season, but it is happening. The Cardinals still have two games with the Seahawks, two games with the Rams, and one game with the 49ers, so a lot can change. But for now, they're the team.

Seahawks hold off the Raiders

The Seahawks entered Sunday's game with the Oakland Raiders as a 15-point favorite. They looked ready to roll the Raiders, taking a 24-3 lead into the half. And then somehow the Raiders found some life. Oakland put up a pair of third quarter touchdowns to turn it into a one-touchdown game. The Seahawks were able to hold off the Raiders, and improve to 5-3. The Seahawks are tied with the Packers for the second wild card spot, a half game back of the 6-3 Cowboys. It's safe to say those two 49ers-Seahawks games are just a little bit important.

The Cowboys are scuffling, the Eagles are back on the winning path

The NFC East race has tightened up in the last couple weeks. The Cowboys have now lost two straight, while the Eagles got back on the winning track, defeating the Houston Texans. The Eagles are now 6-2, while the Cowboys are 6-3. If there was any question before, we can now safely say that Brandon Weeden is not a particularly good quarterback. The Cowboys will potentially have Romo back in Week 10, but they may also try and buy one more week so he can get the bye week rest.

NFC standings

1. Arizona Cardinals (7-1)
2. Detroit Lions (6-2)
3. Philadelphia Eagles (6-2)
4. New Orleans Saints (4-4)

5. Dallas Cowboys (6-3)
6. Seattle Seahawks (5-3)

Just outside, looking in

7. Green Bay Packers (5-3)
8. San Francisco 49ers (4-4)

More work to do

9. Minnesota Vikings (4-5)
10. New York Giants (3-4)
11. Carolina Panthers (3-5-1)
12. Chicago Bears (3-5)
13. St. Louis Rams (3-5)

Draft prep

14. Washington (3-6)
15. Atlanta Falcons (2-6)
16. Tampa Bay (1-7)

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