I’ve got some bad news for everybody. Although the San Francisco 49ers are on their bye week, they can still be eliminated from playoff contention this weekend. I know this comes as a huge disappointment to everybody, so I’ll let you take a moment to compose yourself.
The 49ers have already been eliminated from the divisional race. If they win out, they finish 7-9. The Los Angeles Rams can also finish 7-9 if they lose out, and the 49ers could get a tiebreaker edge over them. However, if the Rams lose out, that means Seattle will have won the Week 15 matchup between those two. If that happens, they would be 7-9 as well. The 49ers lose the divisional tiebreaker to the Seahawks of division win-loss record. The 49ers cannot finish better than 2-4 in the division, while Seattle already has three wins in the division.
This weekend, the 49ers would be eliminated from wild card contention if the Seahawks and Lions both win. We discussed the Seahawks tiebreaker above. The folks at the NFL sub-Reddit put together a helpful explanation for why the Lions win would end the 49ers playoff hopes. Also, you can read this rundown of NFL tiebreaker procedures.
DET winning puts them at 6 wins with 5 conference wins.
The Saints are 7-2 with 5 conference wins. The Panthers are 7-3 with 4 conference wins, requiring them to lose out. This gives the Packers and Falcons their sixth wins (5th each in the conference) and the Buccaneers their fourth win.
The Buccaneers play the Lions, Packers, and Falcons twice. They must take 1.5 from the Falcons, bringing them to 5.5 wins.
The Packers (6 wins), Lions (6), and Bucs (5.5) play each other. At least one of these teams must reach 7 wins from these games, and that team will have at least 5 conference wins, eliminating the 49ers.
Hopefully that doesn’t leave your head too foggy. But yes, if you are looking to chain yourselves to the irrational hope that the 49ers stun the world and make the playoffs at 7-9, you’ll be rooting this weekend for the Bears to beat the Lions and the Falcons to beat the Seahawks.