The San Francisco 49ers are a trendy pick to beat the Buffalo Bills this week. For the Niners to make the playoffs, they must win against Buffalo to avoid having those crazy scenarios that include six different stipulations to make the playoffs. Along the way, San Francisco is going to need help.
According to Football Outsiders playoff projections, the 49ers’ odds have changed by 13.8% since last week, while the Cardinals went down 8.9%. Let’s take a look at the best-case scenarios for Week 13 and what you should be rooting for as a Niners fan Sunday.
Lions @ Bears
The Bears have lost five in a row and are tied with the 49ers and Vikings with a 5-6 record. Both Minnesota and Chicago are above San Francisco, so you should be rooting for Detroit. The Lions are 4-7, but they just fired their head coach. They’re not putting fear in the eyes of anyone. Expect the Lions to play free under an interim coach. Since Chicago is a bigger threat, go Lions.
Jaguars @ Vikings
A Lions victory feels plausible. The same cannot be said for Jacksonville, who are 10-point underdogs to the Vikings. Minnesota is 4-1 since their bye week and seems to be trending in the right direction, even if their wins are ugly. Nobody cares how you won in the regular season if you’re in the playoffs. The goal is to get into the tournament. The Jags are going to start Mike Glennon at quarterback so that I wouldn’t get my hopes up for an upset.
I still believe the Vikings will be the 49ers’ biggest threat come the end of the season, but seeing Minnesota struggle against an iffy Carolina team and losing to a bad Dallas team, their inconsistencies will cost the Vikings a playoff spot.
Rams @ Cardinals
We knew the NFC West would be tough this year, and now, with a month to go in the season, all four teams will be vying for a playoff spot. The fifth-seeded 7-4 Rams take on the seventh-seeded 6-5 Cardinals. You could spin this game in the Niners’ favor for whoever wins. If the Rams win, they’ll have a two-game lead on the 49ers with games against the Jets and the Patriots on the schedule. Even though San Francisco swept Los Angeles, a Rams win would make it difficult for the 49ers to catch them in the standings.
Let’s hope the Rams slip up along the way since San Francisco owns the head-to-head tiebreaker between the two. Arizona is more reasonable and has not looked like a playoff team in the past month. They’re reeling, and their QB is hurt. The only win the Cardinals have in the past month came on a last-second heave against the Bills. Arizona feels like pretenders, and since they’re still on the 49ers’ schedule, a loss today and a loss to the Niners in a couple of weeks would put the Cardinals at seven losses, and they play the Rams in Week 17 again.
If Kyler Murray and company lose, the 49ers don’t have to win out no matter what happens on Monday night. With a loss from Arizona today and a win from San Francisco tomorrow, the Niners are tied with the Cardinals for that last playoff spot. Buckle up.