There are only 3 teams that can legitimately challenge that seed. Here's the challenge they face:
They play each other week 17, So that is a an automatic loss for the division loser. Whoever wins the division is obviously not a challenge for the 6th seed. So, in order for them to get the 6th seed, that means the losing team of week 17 will have to have won the 3 previous games and we lost at least 2. If they won the 3 previous games and week 17 still mattered, that means the other team also won their previous 3 games. Both teams would automatically have a better conference record than us if we tied record wise, so we have to have more wins. This isn't as dangerous as you might think because:
So, in order to lose the 6th to one of these teams, Either
1. BOTH teams finish the season with 3-4 wins in the final 4 games and we lose 2.
2. division loser wins 2 and we lose 3
3. division loser wins 1 and we lose 4.
We have the division tie breaker over them if they lose at Seattle. If they lose at Seattle, the most division wins they can have is 2. We already have 3. This means Arizona would have to actually beat our record.
So in order for Arizona to take our spot if they beat Seattle:
1. We lose to Arizona and Arizona wins as many games or more as the 49ers for the other 3 games. Tie breaker would most likely be strength of victory. Arizona beat Carolina so that hurts.
2. We beat Arizona, lose 3 games and Arizona wins 3
If Arizona loses to Seattle:
1. Arizona beats us, we lose 2 other games and they beat Tennessee and St. Louis (3 total 49er losses, 3 total Arizona wins)
2. We lose out, Arizona also beats either Tennessee or St. Louis (4 49er losses, 3 Arizona wins)
3. We beat Arizona, we lose all 3 other games, Arizona beats Tennesse and St. Louis (3 49er losses, 3 Arizona wins)
If Seattle beats Arizona and both the Cowboys and Eagles don't go 3-1 or better for the final 4 games, we'd have to go 1-3 to miss the play offs.
Feel any better?
[ Edited by MachMan on Dec 3, 2013 at 2:36 PM ]