Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Playoff Picture: Where the 49ers stand heading into Week 18

Jan 3, 2022 at 10:28 AM--

After beating the Houston Texans at Levi's Stadium on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers remain the No. 6 seed in the NFC playoff picture. However, that could change.

If the season ended today, the 49ers would travel to Tampa, Florida, to play the Buccaneers. San Francisco controls its playoff destiny. The team needs to win its Week 18 matchup against the Los Angeles Rams to guarantee the season doesn't end on January 9. Should the Niners lose, they will need help to reach the postseason.

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

  1. Green Bay Packers, 13-3
  2. Los Angeles Rams, 12-4
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 12-4
  4. Dallas Cowboys, 11-5
  5. Arizona Cardinals, 11-5
  6. San Francisco 49ers, 9-7
  7. Philadelphia Eagles, 9-7

The only other NFC team still in the playoff hunt are the 8-8 New Orleans Saints. That's where things get complicated for the 49ers. Should there be a dreaded three-way tie between the 49ers, Eagles, and Saints, the latter two would make the playoffs, leaving San Francisco watching from home.

Yes, the Niners own the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Eagles, but in a three-way tie where head-to-head cannot be used (the 49ers did not play the Saints), New Orleans and Philadelphia make it.

ESPN has the 49ers' chances of making the playoffs at 62 percent, higher than the 38 percent chance given to the Saints. The Atlanta Falcons host the Saints on Sunday.

San Francisco nearly clinched a playoff berth with Sunday's win over the Texans but needed the Panthers to beat the Saints. That didn't happen.

"I can't lie, I did just watch the last 30 seconds [of Saints-Panthers]," head coach Kyle Shanahan admitted after Sunday's game. "It wasn't real fun to watch, so it's pretty simple for us. I think our playoffs, I kind of thought going into this game, that they started today because I had a feeling that [Saints-Panthers game] was going to go like that, and it did. I'm just glad we took care of business, so we got our second playoff game next week."

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