The San Francisco 49ers are the hottest team in the NFL, having reeled off seven victories in a row after securing the NFC West crown in Seattle last Thursday. The easiest path to the playoffs is winning your division, and the Niners left zero doubt they were the cream of the crop out west.
It seemed as though Week 15 would go according to plan until the Colts surrendered the most remarkable comeback in NFL history. Let’s take a look at the updated NFC playoff picture with a few weeks left in the season.
Here’s the latest.
- Eagles: 13-1 — Clinched playoff spot
- Vikings: 11-3 — Clinched NFC North
- 49ers: 10-4 — Clinched NFC West
- Buccaneers: 6-8
Wild Card race (top three advance)
- Cowboys: 10-4 — Clinched playoff spot
- Giants: 8-5-1
- Commanders: 7-6-1
- Seahawks: 7-7
- Lions: 7-7
- Packers: 6-8
Here’s a look at how the playoff matchups would shake out if they started today:
The 49ers would get a home game against Daniel Jones, then potentially face Kirk Cousins on the road. But if Washington were to upset Minnesota — they were up 20-10 in the fourth quarter the last time those two teams played — the Niners, assuming they take care of business and Richie James doesn’t have the revenge game of a lifetime, would face Taylor Heinicke at home in the Divisional playoff round.
We talked about the Eagles losing Jalen Hurts for potentially a month and maybe the season to a shoulder sprain. If Philadelphia slips up and San Francisco keeps winning, they wouldn't have to leave Santa Clara until clinching a Super Bowl berth in Glendale, Arizona.
Now that we’ve gotten way ahead of ourselves, here is how the teams are trending since Week 10:
Top 10 total DVOA rankings since Week 10:— KP (@KP_Show) December 19, 2022
1. 49ers 60.1%
2. Bills 34.3%
3. Lions (!!) 28.3%
4. Eagles 27.2%
5. Bengals 26.6%
6. Chiefs 23.7%
7. Dolphins 16%
8. Cowboys 13.4%
9. Steelers 11.2%
10. Commanders 8.5%
As you can see, since their bye week, the 49ers are head and shoulders above the rest of the NFL. During that same stretch, the Vikings are 28th.
There are endless playoff scenarios for each team to clinch a playoff berth, but none more fascinating than the Detroit Lions, who could be in control of their own destiny as soon as next week. If the 49ers beat the Commanders, the Seahawks lose to the Chiefs, and the Lions beat the Panthers, Dan Campbell would have to beat the Bears and the Packers to sneak into the playoffs.
And looking at the way they’re trending, Detroit feels like a team with aspirations of upsetting the NFC’s elite. They should have beaten Minnesota twice and may get a third crack at the Vikings if everything stands.
The shoe appears to have finally dropped for Geno Smith and the Seahawks. If I were to guess, I’d say the Giants and Lions round out the playoffs while the Buccaneers make it by default.
Is there a preferred Wild card matchup? It has to be the Giants, right? They’re 23rd in total DVOA since Week 10. They’ve been sneaky good on offense, and Daniel Jones's mobility, paired with Saquon Barkley’s explosiveness, would be a challenge. But defensively, New York is 31st and leaves a lot to be desired in the secondary.