The bye week was a mixed bag for the 49ers as the Seahawks picked up half of a game to extend their division lead, but the rest of the division lost, putting the 49ers in a comfortable second-place spot. The division is still very much winnable and should be the 49ers' current focus but can also make up some ground within the conference if things fall right on Sunday.
Here are the three games 49ers fans should be invested in before they take on the Chargers on Sunday night.
Seahawks vs. Buccaneers - 6:30 am, NFL Network
The Buccaneers dealt a big blow to the Rams' season with a 16-13 win over Los Angeles last week. The Rams' loss dropped their playoff chances from 23 percent to 15 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight’s projections. Now, 49ers fans will hope the Buccaneers can take care of business in Munich as they take on the surprising Seattle Seahawks, who currently hold a 6-3 record and hold a game and a half lead over the 49ers in the NFC West.
A Buccaneers win paired with a 49er Sunday night victory would put the 49ers just a half of a game behind the Seahawks heading into Seattle’s bye week. I don’t think I needed to be the one to tell you to cheer against the Seahawks but the choice is easily the Buccaneers here.
Cardinals at Rams - 1:25 pm, FOX
The aforementioned 3-5 Rams playoff chances could take another massive hit as they head to Arizona to take on the struggling Cardinals, who sit at 3-6. The loser of this game will claim sole possession of last place in the NFC West, and a loss could be one of the final nails in the coffin of either one of these two teams’ seasons. Both teams entered the season with lofty expectations, especially the Rams coming off of a Super Bowl season, but a loss would drop either of these teams to at least three games out of a playoff spot with just seven weeks remaining.
A loss for the Cardinals pushes Kliff Kingsbury that much closer to the hot seat, and a loss for the Rams would put their season in a dire spot. It’s almost a choose-your-own adventure game for 49ers fans, but just to see the Rams' downfall continue, personally a Cardinals win would feel better.
Cowboys at Packers - 1:25 pm, FOX
The New York Giants and Cowboys sit ahead of the 49ers in the NFC playoff picture with 6-2 records. The Giants host the Texans on Sunday, while the Cowboys head to Lambeau to take on the struggling Packers.
Obviously, the best case for the 49ers is for both the Cowboys and Giants to lose, as the 49ers would move within a game with a win on Sunday night, but with both facing weaker opponents, that could be tough. The Cowboys game is a bit complicated, however, because if Green Bay wins and the 49ers lose, the Packers will be tied with the 49ers in the win column in the NFC standings.
But if the 49ers take care of business against the Chargers and the Packers win, they’ll be a step closer to moving up in the NFC. It might be a tough pill to swallow, but 49ers fans should be hoping for the Packers to figure it out on Sunday.