A week ago today, we were wondering what permutations of the closing schedule might mean for the San Francisco 49ers tiebreaker with the Oakland Raiders. Today, the Arizona Cardinals join the crowd, and now we wonder what will happen to the two division mates over these final three weeks.
The 49ers, Raiders, and New York Jets all won on Sunday, while the Arizona Cardinals lost to the Detroit Lions. That leaves the 49ers, Raiders, and Cardinals tied for the worst record in the league. The first tiebreaker is strength of schedule, and heading into Monday Night Football, the 49ers and Cardinals are tied at .527, while the Raiders are at .565.
There is enough time for the Raiders to climb ahead of both teams, but for today, we’ll just focus on San Francisco and Arizona. If the 49ers and Cardinals end up with the same strength of schedule, the next tiebreaker is divisional. The 49ers have the worse divisional record, which should give them the edge.
I doubt we see them end up with the same strength of schedule, but for the next three weeks, it effectively comes down to four teams. The 49ers and Cardinals have mostly the same schedule of opponents. They play each NFC West team twice, and each NFC North and AFC West team once. The only differences are the NFC East and NFC South teams they face based on prior year’s divisional standing.
The 49ers played the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, while the Cardinals played Washington and next week faces the Atlanta Falcons. If the 49ers and Cardinals each lose their remaining three games, those four teams will decide the strength of schedule tiebreaker. The SOS is based on the performance of every team on your schedule, so here is how the remaining schedule looks for those four teams.
That Cardinals-Falcons game next week is one of the most interesting games remaining on the schedule, at least for draft pick purposes. The Falcons are a bad football team right now, and while the Cardinals aren’t any good, I don’t think any result would surprise me. The upside to the Cardinals losing to Atlanta next week is that it would boost their strength of schedule. We want the Giants and Bucs to lose games, and Washington and the Falcons to win games.
How do you see the final three weeks going for those four teams?