Kyle’s update, 9:29 a.m.: These playoff rules can be wonky, and Rob misinterpreted the tiebreaker rules. The 49ers would miss the playoffs if each of the Niners, Saints, and Eagles win out due to common opponents. Essentially, getting swept by Seattle is going to come back to bite the Niners.
There is nothing more mind-numbing than hearing 10,000 possible playoff scenarios as the NFL regular season winds down. That said, people obviously want to know what to root for that puts their team in the playoffs. In the case of the 49ers, things looked good with head-to-head tiebreakers over the Eagles, Vikings, and Falcons. But, unfortunately, thanks to the NFL tiebreaking procedures cluster, the 49ers may end up on the outside of the postseason.
In the simplest terms and the most convenient definitions, no matter how many other teams around them are tied, the 49ers will make the playoffs as long as they finish with a better record than either the Eagles, Vikings, or Saints.
If those four teams all finish with the same record, the Niners would be eliminated because they’re in third place in their division. According to the NFL, when three or more teams are tied for a Wild-Card spot, division standing is used to eliminate all but the highest-ranked teams in each division.
So despite the fact that the 49ers have head-to-head wins over two of the three teams they’re competing with for a playoff spot, they would be on the outside looking in because the Cardinals and Rams are also in their division.
Half the teams in the NFC East are under .500. Half the teams in the NFC South are under .500. Half the teams in the NFC North are under .500. So why should those other teams get rewarded for playing in dumpster-fire divisions?
I know it doesn’t do any good to look back, but things sure would be simpler if they had just not given the game away to the Titans on Thursday night.