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NFL playoff picture, Week 15: 49ers can no longer win division

The Arizona Cardinals won on Thursday, all but locking up a playoff spot. And with that the door is getting ever closer to closing on the 49ers playoff chances.

Michael Thomas/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers playoff chances have been reduced to the wild card. I know most of you are absolutely shocked by this development. The Arizona Cardinals hung on to secure a thoroughly hideous win over the St. Louis Rams on Thursday Night Football. The Cardinals managed only four field goals on Thursday, but it was enough to beat the Rams 12-6.

The victory means the 49ers cannot win the division, and all but secures a playoff spot for the Cardinals. If the Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles do not tie on Sunday, Arizona is in the playoffs. It does not end the 49ers playoff chances as there are still the two wild card berths, but if the 49ers do not beat the Seahawks on Sunday, it won't really matter.

The question now is what to make of the Cardinals as they continue suffering injuries. Arizona had to turn to Ryan Lindley in the second half due to a Drew Stanton knee injury. Stanton will undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage, but if it ends up being a problem, this could be a playoff team led by Ryan Lindley. I would say there is no chance they would win a playoff game behind Lindley, but they have been doing a lot this season that I never would have expected.

As for the 49ers, they are going to need to see teams like Dallas and Detroit lose if they want to have even a remote shot at the playoffs. If the 49ers were to lose on Sunday, I believe they would technically remain alive if Dallas and Detroit both lost. If either of those two wins and the 49ers lose, those playoff chances would be even further on life support. They'll just keep on dragging this out as long as they can!