As the San Francisco 49ers continue to struggle through an injury-filled season, all three of their division rivals hold playoff spots going into the final three weeks.
The Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals won their respective Week 14 matchups to push further ahead of the Niners in the standings, mathematically eliminating San Francisco from having a chance at winning the division.
The 49ers will play back-to-back division games to close out the season. If the Niners can win against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday, and Arizona comes up short against the Philadelphia Eagles, it will set up a massive NFC West showdown in Week 16.
Here is where San Francisco’s division rivals sit going into the last three weeks of the season:
1) Los Angeles Rams (9-4) defeated the New England Patriots 24-3
The Rams dominated the Patriots from the opening kickoff. L.A.’s defense swallowed up New England, recording a defensive touchdown for the third-straight game. Aaron Donald and the defensive line were stellar once again, helping the Rams record 6 sacks and 8 tackles for losses against Cam Newton and the Patriots. The defense is the backbone of this team, ranking in the top five in several categories, including yards allowed, passing defense, rushing defense, total sacks and points against per game.
Offensively, L.A. has been much better since struggling against the 49ers in Week 12. Rookie running back Cam Akers is beginning to find his footing. He had a career-high 29 carries for 171 yards last week, helping the Rams control the clock. Quarterback Jared Goff has cut down his mistakes over the last two weeks, with head coach Sean McVay playing to his strengths by calling designs that have Goff throwing on the move.
L.A. should get an easy-win this week, but the ultimate test will come in Week 16 when the Rams travel to Seattle.
Final three games: vs. New York Jets, @ Seahawks, vs. Cardinals
2) Seattle Seahawks (9-4) beat the Jets 40-3
The Jets were the perfect opponent for the Seahawks to get back on track after a Week 13 upset-loss against the New York Giants. Seattle’s defense has been much better over the last month. The unit gave up an average of 29.5 points through the first nine games, but that has dropped to just 14.5 in the previous four weeks. Safety Jamal Adams has already broken the record for most sacks by a DB in a season with 8.5
Quarterback Russell Wilson got back his old ways with a four-touchdown performance against New York. Wilson struggled against the Giants in Week 13 but connected with a bevy of receivers versus the Jets, with nine players recording at least one reception.
The Seahawks’ offensive line will be tested on Sunday when they take on a Washington Football Team that has won four games in a row.
If Seattle beats L.A. in Week 16, San Francisco will have a chance to play spoiler in the regular season finale.
Final three games: @ WFT, vs. Rams, @ 49ers
3) Arizona Cardinals (7-6) beat the Giants 26-7
The Cardinals ended their three-game losing streak with a win at MetLife Stadium. Linebacker Hassan Riddick was dominant against the G-Men, recording 5 sacks on his own as Arizona held New York to just 159 total yards.
Quarterback Kyler Murray helped the Cardinals’ struggling ground game get going again. The Cardinals ran for 159 yards in Sunday’s win as they controlled the clock throughout the contest. After being held to less than 60 yards receiving during the three-game slide, All-Pro receiver DeAndre Hopkins returned to life with a nine-reception, 136-yard performance.
The Cardinals took over the seventh wild-card spot in the standings and control their own destiny going into the season’s stretch drive.
Final three games: vs. Eagles, vs. 49ers, @ Rams
Who do you think will win the division between the Seahawks and Rams?