Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports


Ranking the 49ers’ potential divisional round matchups in 2020 NFL playoffs

Chris Wilson
Jan 5, 2020 at 11:38 AM0



As the San Francisco 49ers enjoy their first-round bye in the 2020 NFL playoffs, here's who Niner fans should root for during Wild Card Weekend.


Although the San Francisco 49ers earned a weekend off by defeating the Seattle Seahawks in last week's 26-21 thriller, the team and its fans will be glued to their televisions on Sunday for the NFC's pair of Wild Card matchups.

Today's playoff slate features two exciting games, beginning with a rematch of the Minneapolis Miracle, as the Minnesota Vikings travel to the Bayou to take on the New Orleans Saints at 10:05 a.m. PT. The NFL's 2020 Wild Card Weekend then comes to a close with the Philadelphia Eagles hosting the Seahawks at 1:40 p.m. PT.

With the Saints owning the No. 3 seed in the NFC, the Niners will face the lowest-seeded squad from the three remaining playoff teams: the Vikings, the Eagles and the Seahawks.

By the end of the day, San Francisco will know which team will be forced to travel to the Bay Area for next Saturday's playoff showdown at Levi's Stadium against the top-seeded 49ers. Although each potential opponent should prove to be a worthy challenger for the 13-3 Niners, the coaching staff, players and fans certainly have their preferences for next weekend's long-awaited playoff game.

So, who should the Faithful root for during today's games? Here's my ranking of the 49ers' potential divisional round matchups:

3. Seattle Seahawks


Although the Seahawks aren't the best team of the three, they are the least desirable potential opponent for San Francisco in the divisional round. Given how the 49ers have struggled against Seattle over the past decade, defeating their NFC West rival for a second time this season seems like a daunting task.

In addition, both the Vikings and the Eagles would need to lose for the Seahawks to face off against the Niners next weekend, which means the 49ers would be forced to face a superior team -- the Packers or the Saints -- if they reach the NFC Championship game.

2. Minnesota Vikings


The Vikings are the top team of the bunch -- at least on paper -- thanks to their top-10 defense and top-10 offense. The No. 5 seed in the NFC is also well-rounded on both sides of the ball. Minnesota's defense ranks in the top-10 in Football Outsiders' DVOA against both the run and the pass, and the team's offense includes dangerous playmakers in the backfield, a pair of top-tier wide receivers and a red-zone threat at the tight end position.

The wild card for this NFC Wild Card team is quarterback Kirk Cousins, who put together his best season to date in 2019, but has a history of playing his worst when the lights shine the brightest. The Vikings remain an undesirable opponent, but Cousins' failures in big games push the team down to the No. 2 slot on the list.

1. Philadelphia Eagles


The best-case scenario for the NFC West champions is a divisional matchup with the 9-7 Eagles, who secured the NFC East title and a trip to the playoffs due to a late-season meltdown by the Dallas Cowboys, who lost five of their last eight contests. Philadelphia was inconsistent for most of the regular season, which included three straight losses and then four consecutive victories to end the year. However, the Eagles are far from a red-hot team, as none of their five December opponents ended the season with a winning record, with four of the games coming against the worst five teams in the league.

Instead, Philadelphia limped into the 2020 playoffs, both figuratively and literally, as injuries have continued to plague the team. Although the "Every Given Sunday" mantra still applies to games played on Saturday, a visit from the Eagles -- which requires victories by both Philadelphia and New Orleans -- is my No. 1 potential divisional matchup for the San Francisco 49ers.
  • Chris Wilson
  • Written by:
    You may have seen Chris Wilson's work on NFL game theory, statistical analysis, and film breakdowns at FanSided, Niner Noise, Insidethe49, LockedonSports, ClutchPoints, and others. Follow Chris on Twitter @cgawilson.
The views within this article are those of the writer and, while just as important, are not necessarily those of the site as a whole.


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