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49ers playoff picture: An early look at the challengers in the NFC

Taking an early look at the NFC playoff picture

NFC Championship - San Francisco 49ers v Seattle Seahawks

It’s been a while since we’ve talked about the San Francisco 49ers in the playoffs. They haven’t made the playoffs since the 2013 season, where they were eliminated in the conference championship by the Seattle Seahawks. We are in Week 10 of the 2019 season. Some may think that it’s too early to discuss the playoff picture. Will what we talk about today be different in two months? Of course. It’ll be fun to keep track of all the changes, in any case.

Here are the Week 10 playoff odds from Football Outsiders. I’m using their simulations as they factor in DVOA/DAVE to their simulation.

Week 10 Playoff odds

This is going to be one of the most competitive playoff races that I can remember. A team may have ten wins and find themselves on the outside looking in. It’d be a real shame if that team were the road team on Monday night.

Seattle is lower than Minnesota since they haven’t played the Niners. They’re also below Dallas since the simulation gives the Cowboys a better chance to win the NFC East than the Seahawks have of fighting off the teams below them. There is a realistic scenario where four teams with three or fewer losses end up 10-6, then it turns to tiebreaker scenarios, which is too early to get into now.

Let’s put the NFC in tiers.

Who’s who

The favorites

49ers, Saints, Packers

To me, these are the three teams to beat in the NFC. San Francisco and New Orleans will both likely finish top-10 in DVOA on offense and defense. The Packers have taken a dip defensively, but that’s going to happen with a young secondary. They also have Aaron Rodgers.

Playoff probables

Cowboys, Seahawks, Vikings, Rams

Yes, only six teams can make it. The last spot will come down to an NFC West team. If the 49ers can get out of these last eight games with one divisional loss, you can all but book a bye week.

Each one of these teams is plenty good but has too many flaws to overlook. Dallas turns the ball over too much on offense, and they are a different team when they play outside of their division. Seattle’s offense is reliant on one person, and their defense is on par with Arizona’s. Seriously, you’ll see Monday night. Kirk Cousins has turned it around in Minnesota, but we know Cousins will return to form when the competition stiffens, and the stakes rise. The other team has Jared Goff at quarterback.

You better go on a win-streak

Panthers, Eagles

The Panthers look competent when they’re playing outside of Santa Clara, but it’s tough to imagine Kyle Allen not costing Carolina a game or two. The Eagles are average at best on both sides of the ball.

Where we stand now

The playoff picture for the Wildcard hasn’t changed. That’s likely not going to be the case after Week 10 if you look at the schedule and see who plays who. A Seattle loss would knock them out. We could also see Philly, Carolina, and Los Angeles listed here next week.


(5) Seattle at (4) Dallas

(6) Minnesota at (3) Green Bay


Better remaining seed at (2) New Orleans

Worse remaining seed at (1) San Francisco

I don’t think San Francisco will go undefeated. I do believe these two teams will flip-flop between the top seed and second seed over the next two months. I also believe these two will be the top seeds come playoffs.

The 49ers are in the driver’s seat. By taking care of business the first half of the season, the Niners have put themselves in a position to control their destiny. Even if San Francisco finishes 5-3, that gives them a 13-3 record and a probable bye week. The Saints have Carolina twice, as well as the 49ers, Titans, and Colts.

Buckle up.