And once again, thoughts of “winning out” were completely overexaggerated. The San Francisco 49ers wrapped up the NFC West a few weeks back, but the division has still been alive in the NFL postseason.
Well, until this week anyway. After this week, the only thing to keep an eye on is draft positioning. The 49ers have secured that precious No. 1 Seed, which includes a much-needed first round bye. Even better, the 49ers got it with a week to go, which gives them another week to rest the VIPs and get ready for a postseason run.
Let’s take a look at what everyone did, and who helped the 49ers.
Los Angeles Rams (9-7)
The Rams had some issues on Sunday against the New York Giants. Midway through the 3rd quarter, you thought they may start separating further with their 20-10 lead, then they started missing kicks. From there, the Giants clawed back into things. The Giants had a chance to get a 1-point lead, but running back Saquon Barkley dropped the easy pass.
The Giants had one more chance after an impressive Tyrod Taylor scamper, but then Mason Crosby missed the kick. The Rams hung on and secured a playoff spot with the Seahawks losing in the afternoon.
The Rams are very similar to the 49ers in 2021 and are not going away. They will be a force in the playoffs, and they could be a headache when/if they meet the 49ers. The good news is it’s at Levi’s this time and not Levi’s South.
Seattle Seahawks (8-8)
If the Seahawks could have won, that would have shaken the postseason up a bit. Instead, they lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers at home and now need to not only win, but hope for the Green Bay Packers to lose if they want to participate in the postseason. The Steelers put their feet up at Lumen Field looked to dominate most of the game. Seattle clawed back into it at times, but they never once took the lead, and it was clear Pittsburgh was in control.
The Seahawks now sit at .500 and have to win their next game to have any chance at all in the wild card. Even with a win, they are no longer in control of their destiny and need to have the Green Bay Packers beat the Chicago Bears—that’s the only option.
With Pete Carroll, one has to wonder if this ride is coming to an end. Not bad coaching, but maybe things have run their course.
The Seahawks will have one more game to possibly evaluate quarterback Geno Smith and see if he can take the reins of the offense for another season, or if they want to look to the draft and roll the dice.
Arizona Cardinals (4-12)
For this week only, we will not give dirty looks to you being a Cardinals fan, this is due to Arizona walking into Philadelphia and taking the game in the final minutes thanks to a shaky Philadelphia Eagles defense. You know what that victory did: It gave the San Francisco 49ers the No. 1 Seed, and two weeks of rest before the NFC Divisional.
At first, it seemed like the 49ers would get no help from the Cardinals. Early in the 3rd quarter it was 21-6. Then the Cardinals woke up and next thing you know it’s tied up in the 4th 21-21. Yes, the Eagles couldn’t score again until the final minutes of the 4th quarter.
Kyler Murray blew up and marched down the field with under a minute left and punched it into the end zone to put a stop to all of this. Now the Eagles have their own divisional issues and are looking at the No. 5 seed. It’s funny how an entire season goes, usually it’s not this perfect storm of events.
Either way, the Eagles or the Cowboys will have to go on the road unless the 49ers tank the divisional.
Into Week 18
It’s just about sewn up here for the NFC West. The Seahawks and Cardinals will square off against each other. The Cardinals are playing for pride and the Seahawks need to keep pace and hope Green Bay can lose in the process.
The Packers play the Chicago Bears at the same start time as the Seahawks/Cardinals game, so Seahawks fans will be switching back and forth for that one. Should the Packers win, the Seahawks postseason hopes are history. Of course, if the Seahawks lose to the Cardinals, the Packers win won’t matter (though if the Seahawks tie, it’s fair game).
There is, one more alternative for the Seahawks and that’s if there’s a tie in the New Orleans Saints/Tampa Bay Buccaneers game. Of course, the odds of that happening are extremely low. We’ve seen stranger things happen with that team.
The Rams and the 49ers will also be squaring off in a divisional game that just doesn’t matter. The 49ers have already clinched the No. 1 Seed and a bye, so the thing to watch will be how they handle their starters going into the playoffs. Expect to see a debut of Sam Darnold that isn’t mop-up duty or to spell Brock Purdy from a stinger.
We’re at the finish line of the 2023 regular season folks.
3rd: Seattle Seahawks; Next: at Arizona Cardinals
4th [Eliminated from Postseason]: Arizona Cardinals; Next: vs. Seattle Seahawks