The NFC West had a slight shakeup yesterday with divisional games for all four teams. The 49ers have reclaimed the first place spot thanks to their wild finish against the Los Angeles Rams. The win gives the 49ers some wiggle room this week when they take on the Seahawks. Beyond them having the first seed this week, the first place standing means nothing until Sunday.
The 49ers can lock things up with a win in Seattle OR a tie. If the 49ers tie, they can still miss out on the first seed depending on how the rest of the conference works out, but a tie is definitely in play now. Let’s look at it.
Arizona Cardinals (5-9-1)/Seattle Seahawks (11-3)
The Cardinals showed up to play against the Seattle Seahawks. Then Kenyan Drake went out but returned. Then Kyler Murray didn’t come back. Then the Seahawks did their usual momentum shift via blocking a field goal.
With Brett Hundley at quarterback, we all knew how this would end, right? Wrong.
The Cardinals managed to beat the Seahawks in Seattle, 27-13. The loss doesn’t do much but put a shiny SF logo in all playoff scenarios, but it does offer some wiggle room. The 49ers can get a tie and win the division.
The Cardinals don’t have Murray for now, so that will be something to watch for.
Meanwhile, the Seattle Seahawks have effectively lost their running game. No, that’s not an overstatement, their entire running game is now going to be out for Week 17. Running backs, C.J. Prosise and Chris Carson are out with a broken arm and hip injuries, respectively. They also lost offensive tackle Duane Brown. Brown’s injury is a question mark, but it’s assumed he’s gone from Week 17.
Now the Seahawks know what it’s like when the 49ers lost George Kittle.
Los Angeles Rams (8-7)
The Rams certainly gave the 49ers their best shot. Unfortunately, the 49ers have one James Richard Garoppolo on the roster, and the Rams have one Taylor Rapp on theirs. If you speak to Jalen Ramsey, you know Rapp caused this loss on Sunday.
The loss to the 49ers puts the Cardinals on a chance for 9-7 and missing the playoffs with a winning season. It was quite the turnaround, but the Rams have some tough decisions. The first thing will be paying Ramsey since they gave up two first-rounders to get him and have no extension plan in place.
There’s also the question of Jared Goff and Todd Gurley. Are they worth that money to keep? Especially when Gurley wasn’t used half the time. There is some speculation they were keeping Gurley fresh for the playoffs, but it is still strange he gets the money he does and then has to relinquish carries at oddball moments.
Into Week 17
This all could have been locked up had the 49ers beat the Falcons last week. If the 49ers just kept Julio out of the endzone, they’d have the West won and could rest their starters. Instead, they have to go to Seattle to get the monkey off their backs. The 49ers have not won in Seattle since Jim Harbaugh’s first season in 2011.
The game has been flexed into Sunday Night football due to the stakes. The first seed, the NFC West, and quite possibly the Super Bowl are on the line this week.
Meanwhile, the Cardinals face the Rams. One team gets to screw the other out of a draft pick. That’s really all that game is.
1st: San Francisco 49ers; Next: at Seattle Seahawks
2nd: Seattle Seahawks; Next: vs. San Francisco 49ers
3rd [Eliminated]: Los Angeles Rams; Next: at Arizona Cardinals
4th [Eliminated]: Arizona Cardinals; Next: vs. Los Angeles Rams