Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Picture: Where the 49ers stand after the Dolphins knock off the Saints

Dec 27, 2021 at 8:28 PM--

On Monday night, San Francisco 49ers fans found themselves rooting for the Miami Dolphins. As explained by Brian Renick, had the New Orleans Saints won out, it could have severely hurt the 49ers' playoff chances. Instead, Miami won the primetime matchup at Hard Rock Stadium, beating New Orleans 20-3 and dropping the Saints to 7-8 on the season.

If San Francisco wins its final two games of the season, the Bay Area squad would be assured a playoff berth regardless of any other outcomes. The 49ers own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings, and Atlanta Falcons. However, a three-way tie between the 49ers, Eagles, and Saints could have been disastrous, resulting in the latter two earning the final two Wild Card spots.

Below is a breakdown of the current playoff picture in the NFC, with the first four teams listed being the current division leaders. The first five have clinched a playoff berth.

  1. Green Bay Packers, 12-3
  2. Dallas Cowboys, 11-4
  3. Los Angeles Rams, 11-4
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 11-4
  5. Arizona Cardinals, 10-5
  6. San Francisco 49ers, 8-7
  7. Philadelphia Eagles, 8-7

Below are the top three teams in the hunt to make their way into the playoff picture.

  • Minnesota Vikings, 7-8
  • Atlanta Falcons, 7-8
  • New Orleans Saints, 7-8

If the season ended today, the 49ers would travel to SoFi Stadium to play the Rams in the Wild Card round, meaning back-to-back games there against the division rival. The two teams face each other in Week 18 to close out the regular season.

San Francisco could lock up a playoff berth with a Week 17 win over the Houston Texans and a Saints loss to the Carolina Panthers.

The 49ers might be without starting quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo down the stretch. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reported that Garoppolo suffered a torn ligament and chipped bone in his right thumb in last Thursday night's 20-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans. ESPN's Adam Schefter later reported that Garoppolo suffered a UCL tear and fracture.

That could mean rookie Trey Lance starting for at least Sunday's game against the Texans, possibly longer.

49ers players were watching Monday night's matchup, knowing what the game between the Dolphins and Saints meant for their playoff hopes.

"It's hard not to when it does affect us so much, and how invested we are in this thing," fullback Kyle Juszczyk told reporters on Monday. "It's kind of hard to just turn a blind eye to it. But yeah, I was watching the games on Sunday and locked in, and I'll be watching tonight."

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