San Francisco 49ers fans are grateful for the Miami Dolphins handing the short-handed New Orleans Saints a loss in Week 16. With the Dolphins 20-3 rout over the Saints, the 49ers received some much needed breathing room in the postseason picture.
Following the 49ers Week 16 loss against the Tennessee Titans, San Francisco may not have moved in their NFC seeding, but they did lose their once-complete control of their postseason hopes. But Monday night changed things for the 49ers.
San Francisco's record dropped to 8-7 following their Thursday night loss, but the team remains ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) and Minnesota Vikings (7-8), who the 49ers own tie breakers against.
With Philadelphia's win over the New York Giants on Sunday, the Eagles bumped Minnesota out of the seventh and final spot in the NFC seeding.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the 49ers chances to make the postseason dropped from 81 percent to 75 following New Orleans' loss. The 49ers are now in a position that they cannot afford to drop one of their remaining two games with multiple teams nipping at their heels – teams who also own a better overall conference record than San Francisco.
The now 7-8 Saints loss to the Miami Dolphins on "Monday Night Football" dropped New Orleans from eighth in NFC standings to tenth. Minnesota and the Atlanta Falcons have now moved up to eighth and ninth seed, respectively.
If San Francisco can defeat their Week 17 opponent, the Houston Texans, and the Saints fall to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday, San Francisco can clinch a wild card spot, per ESPN's Nick Wagoner. Additionally, if the 49ers can win both of their upcoming matchups against Houston and the Los Angeles Rams, they are in.
As for the rest of the conference, the Green Bay Packers still sit atop of the NFC following a win over the Cleveland Browns on Saturday. If they win their final two games, Green Bay will earn a first-round Bye heading into Wild Card weekend.
San Francisco's Week 16 loss allowed the Dallas Cowboys to clinch a playoff spot, and at 11-4, own the second seed in the conference.
With a win over the Vikings, the Los Angeles Rams currently sit atop of the NFC West division and are currently occupying the third seed in the conference. Meanwhile, the Arizona Cardinals suffered their third-straight loss and dropped from the once-first seed to fourth. Both the Rams and Cardinals have clinched a playoff berth.
If the regular season were to end today, the 49ers would still be traveling to SoFi Stadium to face the Rams in the Wild Card round.
Here's a current look at the NFC standings at the conclusion of Week 16's matchups.
|1||Green Bay Packers||12-3|
|3||Los Angeles Rams||11-4|
|4||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||11-4|
|6||San Francisco 49ers||8-7|
|--||New Orleans Saints||7-8|
|--||Washington Football Team||6-9|
|--||New York Giants||4-11|