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49ers Week 15 rooting guide: A win and some possible breathing room for the No. 1 seed

We could see plenty of musical chairs in the NFC playoff race this week

Seattle Seahawks v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Michael Zagaris/San Francisco 49ers/Getty Images

The NFC’s playoff picture has cleared up in recent weeks. The San Francisco 49ers path to the No. 1 seed and NFC West title is clear. This week, a win paired with a Los Angeles Rams tie or loss clinches the division for the Niners.

If Kyle Shanahan and company want a first round bye, winning out will eliminate any need to scoreboard watch and hope another team loses along the way.

We’ll still look at the Week 15 slate to determine which teams the 49ers should be rooting for and against, for seeding purposes.

The Cowboys, Eagles, and Lions are each threatening the Niners for the No. 1 seed. Each of those teams play an AFC team this week. Detroit hosts Denver on Saturday. The Broncos sit at ninth in the AFC West and will be desperate for a road victory.

At the same time when the 49ers will be in the desert, Dallas is on the road against Buffalo. Finally, on Monday night, the Philadelphia travels to Seattle.

The Lions are in an ideal spot returning home and getting a team who can’t stop the run. I think they have the best chance to win of the three teams. I think Buffalo will handle the Cowboys after a stinker of a second half against the Chiefs last week. And who knows what to expect between the Seahawks and Eagles. But I wouldn’t be so quick to pencil in a road victory for an Eagles team that looks lifeless.

San Francisco will be sitting pretty come Tuesday if Denver, Buffalo, and Seattle pull off the upset — although it’s more likely that the latter two do than the former.

Looking at the rest of the playoff teams, we have the Vikings, Buccaneers, Packers, Rams, Falcons, and Saints. That’s six teams fighting for three spots. Stylistically, do any of those squads pose a threat to the 49ers?

Los Angeles head coach Sean McVay has familiarity, and had success on offense back in Week 2. Minnesota beat the Niners and have only gotten better defensively. But they’re starting old friend Nick Mullens, and he’s their best option under center to even make it to the playoffs.

It’s difficult to trust Derek Carr, Jordan Love, or Desmond Ridder and how they’d perform in a situation where they’d be pushed to score upwards of 28 points against the Niners in a playoff setting.

For now, the Buccaneers, Vikings and Packers are playoff teams in. Tampa Bay travels to Lambeau Field. Baker on the road in the cold? Doubt it. Nick Mullens on the road in his first start of the season? Love you BDN, but that’s a stretch.

Which opens the door for the Falcons, who are on the road against Carolina — widely considered the worst team in the NFL — to sneak right back into the playoff race. The same is true for New Orleans, who is a game below .500 but gets Tommy Cutlets and the New York Giants.

The Rams aren’t going anywhere this week, as they host the Washington Commanders. So, the playoff seeding will likely play musical chairs, at least in the bottom half of the NFC playoff race, for another week.