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NFC West recap: 49ers can wrap up the division in Week 15

Cardinals are no gimmie

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at San Francisco 49ers Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

As you probably heard, the San Francisco 49ers have secured a playoff spot. They are the first team in the 2023 season to be playoff bound. This is thanks to the Green Bay Packers losing to the New York Giants in a game that was an instant classic for all the wrong reasons in the first half, and a helluva fun game in the second.

While the 49ers have a playoff spot secured, they don’t have the division. Fear not, it would take a cataclysmic meltdown, a historical skid, for the 49ers to cough that up.

At this point, the eyes are on the NFC itself. As I said in this recap over and over again, the 49ers would have to win out to get the No. 1 seed. I just might have been wrong. The Seattle Seahawks are down but not out and will be making their last gasp this Sunday in Seattle against the Philadelphia Eagles, it is quite believable they can win that one.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys have beaten one (1) team with a winning record as we enter the 15th week of the season. This was done in their stadium. A winning record that remained after the Cowboys beat them. They are entering a rough stretch with the Buffalo Bills, Miami Dolphins, and the Detroit Lions.

The 49ers have handed some convincing wins to the NFC’s best where we’ve learned a lot about the 49ers (how did they lose three games again? Yes, I know the answer). Now it’s time to learn about the Dallas Cowboys.

Speaking of the 49ers, they have a test of their own: the Arizona Cardinals. That game is no gimme. Kyler Murray has given them fits in the past and the Cardinals are better than their record indicates. The Cardinals can still get a playoff spot if a lot of things go their way, but at this point they will be wanting to spoil the 49ers’ party.

With the way the schedule works out, the 49ers could win this weekend while Dallas/Philadelphia lose which would give them a bit of cushioning in this playoff race. They have the Baltimore Ravens and a second meeting with the Los Angeles Rams. That latter game would be preferable with everything locked up beforehand, so there isn’t a chance for injuries.

Seattle Seahawks (6-7)

With the loss to the 49ers, you may think the Seahawks are circling the drain. While they are not barred from a wild card spot, Sunday’s loss removes them from divisional contention, and they are in the six-win club with five other teams. One of which is the Rams, who they lose the tiebreaker to. This works in the 49ers favor as the Seahawks are making their last stand and absolutely have to win on Sunday.

And that’s a win that helps the 49ers.

The Philadelphia Eagles are coming to Seattle. Given that the Seahawks’ backs are against the wall, they should come out to this game with their hair on fire, not unlike they did against the 49ers. While the 49ers were in control during that game, lots of Seattle things happened that gave the impression the game may have a different ending. Hope for Seattle things, but this time they can get the job done.

The good news is Seattle is one of the toughest spots for an away team to play. So consider this the last hurrah for the Seahawks. Should Philadelphia lose, and the Dallas Cowboys are unable to beat winning teams consistently, this should give the 49ers a good game or two lead in the NFC. With the Baltimore Ravens coming up, that would let them drop a game and still have the No. 1 seed.

Los Angeles Rams (6-7)

The 2023 Rams are similar to what the 2021 49ers were: You don’t want to see them in the playoffs. Thankfully, Baltimore helped make that a reality via a loss in one of the week’s more fun games. Just when you thought the Rams may have a shot, Baltimore’s special teams went for a huge punt return in overtime to end the game.

The loss also puts the Rams in the six-win club. A club where teams are fighting for those last two wild card spots. The 49ers play the Rams in the final week of the 2023 regular season and if the Rams are eliminated by then, the 49ers can give their starters some rest. One team with Super Bowl aspirations playing their division rival who is eliminated from the playoffs sounds like a recipe for disaster. Nothing has happened yet. The Packers are leading the six-win club right now, so these next few weeks will see how many teams ditch the club.

Arizona Cardinals (3-10)

The Cardinals are still in the playoff picture. That might change come this week. The San Francisco 49ers come to town.

Kyler Murray has given the 49ers a headache in the past, so we’ll see if they can contain him this time. The 49ers are favored by 13.5 points, but it’s a divisional game and the Cardinals always play hard. I want to put injuries on our minds too. The 49ers are favored with their current injured list, when we find out who is playing and not on Sunday, that line could swing a bit.

This is a massive test for the 49ers. Do they play with their food (and annoy the hell out of us) or put the Cardinals away in quick fashion, giving us a glimpse of the Sam Darnold show?

Into Week 15

The Seahawks will be hosting the Philadelphia Eagles in what might be Seattle’s last stand. So far, they are suffering the worst losing streak in the Pete Carroll era. More losses and the disappointing quarterback play since the Russell Wilson trade may make it where a decision is made. It helps the 49ers get some cushioning if the Seahawks can pull this out. The Eagles have all sorts of issues right now, so a win is entirely possible. The Eagles are favored by just 3.5 points.

The Rams will be hosting the Washington Commanders. While we’ve seen some good stuff from the Commanders, they traded their whole defense away and the Rams are favored by seven points. The Commanders could surprise everyone here, and I wouldn’t be shocked to see them in this until the very end.

And then the Cardinals host the 49ers. This one is no gimme, it very well could be a trap game with the 49ers’ injury issues leveling the playing field. We’ll just have to wait and see.

1st: San Francisco 49ers; Next: at Arizona Cardinals

2nd: Los Angeles Rams; Next: vs. Washington Commanders

3rd: Seattle Seahawks; Next: vs. Philadelphia Eagles

4th: Arizona Cardinals; Next: vs. San Francisco 49ers