San Francisco 49ers fans found out Monday night that their favorite team would be a part of the playoff gold rush to Super Bowl XLVIII.
While that might not have been in doubt for some San Francisco faithful, the Niners now look to a Week 17 showdown with the Arizona that will have an interesting impact on the NFC postseason landscape. A San Francisco win on the road is part of one potential scenario that could lead to a first round bye and home field advantage.
In order for those stars to align, San Francisco first needs to beat an Arizona team playing for its playoff life. Arizona needs a win and a loss by the New Orleans Saints to snag a wildcard berth in the 2014 NFL playoffs. But if San Francisco wins and the Seattle Seahawks lose to the St. Louis Rams, the 49ers will take the NFC West crown with a 12-4 record and better divisional record, entitling them to a first round playoff bye.
On top of that, San Francisco can take home field advantage throughout the playoffs if the Carolina Panthers lose to or tie with the Atlanta Falcons, making them the top seed.
Now, some of these things are more likely to happen than others. The San Francisco 49ers control their own destiny when it comes to the Arizona game. And Seattle’s been upset already this year by the Cardinals. Add to that, St. Louis has already dealt out an upset as well, which is why Drew Brees’ Saints are still fighting for a wildcard spot (think they’re playing “Save Me, San Francisco” at team practices?). San Francisco atop the division isn’t a lock, but it’s also not a longshot.
San Francisco will know the outcome of the earlier Falcons-Panthers game heading into the Cardinals game, but 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh explains why that won’t affect how they approach the game.
“[There’s] too much at stake,” the San Francisco head coach said. “Too big of a game. I think somebody from the media asked me that last week, about would we approach Monday night’s game differently, and said no at that time. As you know, too many things can happen and there’s too much at stake.”
Can the San Francisco 49ers win the division?