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NFL playoff picture: Scenarios as the 49ers prepare for the Raiders

The 49ers playoff chances are hurting after Thursday's loss to the Seahawks. However, there are opportunities available to them. Here is the full rundown.

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

The San Francisco 49ers playoff chances took a hit on Thursday with their loss to the Seattle Seahawks, dropping them to 7-5 and a full game behind the two wild card teams. Even after the loss, the 49ers still have a path to the playoffs. It will not matter if the offense does not show more consistency, but the opportunity is there. And yes, I realize we are sort of all over the place with a rundown of draft order one minute, and a look at the playoff picture the next minute.

Arizona is slipping

The 49ers benefited on Sunday with the Arizona Cardinals loss to the Atlanta Falcons. Road games are never easy, but the Cardinals are slipping since the loss of Carson Palmer. We've talked plenty about 49ers injuries, but the Cardinals have had a rough go of it on the injury front as well. They now hold a one-game lead on the Seattle Seahawks, with a game between those two in Arizona later this month.

The Cardinals schedule does not get any easier, as they host the Kansas City Chiefs this Sunday. The Chiefs are coming off a tough loss to the Denver Broncos, but they remain in the mix with four other 7-5 teams (and possibly a fifth if the Dolphins win on Monday Night Football). The Cardinals defense can potentially win this one for them, but they are slip-sliding away.

Seattle is probably going to win the division

The Seahawks are now a game back of the Cardinals, with one game in hand against them, and an even record in the division. The 49ers travel to face the Seahawks in two weeks, facing practically a must-win situation. The 49ers could remain mathematically alive with a loss up in Seattle, but 10-6 might not cut it this season for a wild card berth. And that is assuming the 49ers beat the Raiders, Chargers and Cardinals. For now, the Seahawks are rolling, and with Arizona sliding, the NFC West is there's for the taking.

If the 49ers somehow figured out a way to win up in Seattle, it would throw things for quite the loop.

What will Dallas and Detroit do?

The Lions got a big win over the Bears on Thanksgiving, while the Cowboys were pummeled by the Eagles. The 49ers playoff chances would depend in part on how these two teams close out the regular season. Both have show signs of strong play, but both have a history of slipping. Dallas seems more likely to slip at this point, but Matthew Stafford is not exactly a lock week in and week out.

What does it all mean for the 49ers?

San Francisco will likely need to win out to earn a playoff berth. If they finished 10-6, they would need help from Detroit and/or Dallas and/or Arizona. It is entirely possible they get that help, but this would also require them helping themselves out by, you know, scoring points.

For now, here is a rundown of the current playoff standings with the pertinent tiebreaker, followed by each team's remaining schedule:

1. Arizona Cardinals (9-3) - over GB based on conference record, over PHI based on head-to-head
2. Green Bay Packers (9-3) - over PHI based on head-to-head
3. Philadelphia Eagles (9-3)
4. Atlanta Falcons (5-7) - over NO based on head-to-head, with 1 game remaining in NO

5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4) - Over DET based on best record against common opponents, over DAL based on conference record
6. Detroit Lions (8-4) - Over DAL based on conference record

7. Dallas Cowboys (8-4)
8. San Francisco 49ers (7-5)

Week 49ers Cardinals Seahawks Eagles Cowboys Lions Packers
14 @ Oakland vs. Kansas City @ Philadelphia vs. Seattle @ Chicago vs. Tampa Bay vs. Atlanta
15 @ Seattle @ St. Louis vs. San Francisco vs. Dallas @ Philadelphia vs. Minnesota @ Buffalo
16 vs. San Diego vs. Seattle @ Arizona vs. Washington vs. Indianapolis @ Chicago @ Tampa Bay
17 vs. Arizona @ San Francisco vs. St. Louis @ NY Giants @ Washington @ Green Bay vs. Detroit

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