The San Francisco 49ers playoff chances to a massive hit with the 23-15 loss to the Washington Football Team. The Niners fell to 5-8 and sit two games behind the Arizona Cardinals for the second NFC wild-card.
FIvethirtyeight.com gives San Francisco a 9% chance to make the playoffs after Week 14. Here is how things stand in the NFC in the chase for the seventh postseason berth.
7) Arizona Cardinals 7-6
8) Minnesota Vikings 6-7
9) Chicago Bears 6-7
10) Detroit Lions 5-8
11) San Francisco 49ers 5-8
If the Niners can beat the lowly Dallas Cowboys and Arizona loses to Jalen Hurd and the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, it will set up a huge NFC West showdown in Week 16 between the 49ers and Cardinals.
The Vikings and Bears play each other in Week 15, while the Lions will be underdogs when they hit the road to take on the Tennessee Titans.
Here are the remaining schedules for the five teams:
Arizona: vs. Eagles, vs. 49ers, @ Rams
Minnesota: vs. Bears, @ Saints, @ Lions
Chicago: @ Vikings, @ Jaguars, @ Packers
Lions: @ Titans, vs. Buccaneers, vs. Vikings
San Francisco: @ Cowboys, @ Cardinals, vs. Seahawks
It will take a lot of luck for the 49ers to get into the playoffs, but with the way the team has played in recent weeks, it seems like a forgone conclusion that they will be on the outside looking in.
Things get interesting when looking at how things can shake out with the 2021 NFL Draft order. At 5-8, the Niners would currently be picking 12th. But, if they lose their remaining three games, they can shoot up the draft board.
The top-three picks are locked in. The winless New York Jets are in the pole position to get Clemson QB, Trevor Lawrence. The 1-12 Jacksonville Jaguars would pick second, while the 2-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals would pick No. 3.
After that, there is a logjam of teams that will definitely change their draft positioning over the final three weeks of the season.
Here is how things currently look from Nos. 4 through 13 and each team’s schedule over the final three weeks. *The NFL uses strength of schedule to determine the tiebreakers for draft positioning. The team with the easier strength of schedule will get the higher pick.
5) Dallas Cowboys 4-9 ( vs. 49ers, vs. Eagles, @ Giants)
7) Atlanta Falcons 4-9 (vs. Bucs, @ Chiefs, @ Bucs)
8) Houston Texans 4-9 (@ Colts, vs. Bengals, vs. Titans)
9) Eagles 4-9 (@ Cardinals, @ Cowboys, vs. Washington)
11) Detroit Lions 5-8 (@ Titans, vs. Buccaneers, vs. Vikings)
12) 49ers 5-8 (@ Cowboys, @ Cardinals, vs. Seahawks)
As you can, there is still a lot to sort out over the next three weeks. The Cowboys’ remaining games come against teams that are listed above. The Falcons look to have the toughest schedule, but usually, playoff teams that are locked into their seed will rest their starters for some or all of their final regular season games.
If San Francisco loses its last three contests, it should get a pick in the top eight. This week’s game against Dallas either keeps the Niners’ postseason hopes alive for another week or pushes them higher up the draft board. The Cowboys and Eagles would have the head-to-head tiebreaker over San Francisco, while the 49ers have it over New York.
What do you think will be the 49ers’ record at the end of the season? If they don’t sneak into the postseason, where do you think they will end up picking at the draft?