With the NFL expanding the playoff format for the 2020 season to include one more team from each conference, it highlights the importance of clinching the No. 1 seed.
The San Francisco 49ers secured the best record in the NFC in the most dramatic way last season, beating the rival Seattle Seahawks with a remarkable defensive stand in the final seconds. Beating the Seahawks significantly improved the Niners’ chances of making the Super Bowl, otherwise, they would have fallen to the No. 4 seed, meaning two road games to start the playoffs.
NBC’s Peter King gave a nice breakdown of recent Super Bowl trends and highlighted the importance of a first-round bye:
“The seeds of the last 14 teams to make Super Bowls, starting with Seattle-Denver in SBXLVIII:
1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 1.
Interesting, of course, to see nothing but teams with byes play in the Super Bowl in the last seven years. But I’m not sure it’s wholly indicative of the sport. Comparing the last seven champions with the previous seven:
The seeds of the last seven Super Bowl winners:
1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2.
The seeds of the previous seven Super Bowl winners:
3, 5, 2, 1, 6, 4, 4.
I don’t buy that the league is going to stay on the path of the 1 seed winning five of every seven Super Bowls—even when the 1 seed is the only team getting a bye in the foreseeable future.”
The 49ers currently have the best odds to win the Super Bowl, according to SportsLine.
You have to assume the percentages will come down if San Francisco finishes lower than first.
While the NFL hasn’t released the official schedule for the 2020 season yet, we do know who the Niners’ opponents will be:
Home: LA Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles, Washington Redskins, Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins.
Away: LA Rams, Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints, Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, New England Patriots, New York Jets.
The 49ers could have five 10 a.m. games on their schedule, but that is up in the air until we know the primetime schedule. San Francisco’s matchups against the Saints, Cowboys, Giants, and Patriots all have the potential to be moved to night games.
Within the division, the Cardinals have improved and played the Niners tough both times in 2019, while the matchups with the Seahawks were close as well. I am not expecting much from the Rams in 2020.
Although injuries are always a huge variable in the NFL, looking at the schedule and the roster as is, do you think the 49ers will get the top seed in the NFC again next season?