The San Francisco 49ers have one game left in the regular season slate and plenty to play for in their regular season finale versus the Arizona Cardinals. San Francisco's 37-34 overtime win against the Las Vegas Raiders combined with losses by the Minnesota Vikings and Philadelphia Eagles positioned the 49ers to the No. 2 seed in the NFC and opened the door for a chance at the top seed in the conference. However, the outcome of the playoff seed race is not completely in the hands of the 49ers and will depend on outcomes of some other top contenders in the NFC. The good news is, they are locked in to at least a No. 3 seed as winners of the NFC West.
If the 49ers are able to reach the top spot in the NFC, the team will have a first round bye, giving them a weekend off as teams compete in the Wild Card Round. Should San Francisco remain in the No. 2 spot or drop down to No. 3, they will have home field advantage for Super Wild Card Weekend.
Taking care of business in Week 18 is an important next step for the 49ers. The Cardinals have already been eliminated from playoff contention and had their starting quarterback Kyler Murray sidelined due to a season-ending injury in mid December, but could play spoiler to San Francisco.
Several national outlets have the 49ers ranked in the top three teams across the league heading into Week 18. ESPN placed San Francisco in the No. 3 spot behind the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills in their latest set of rankings.
"... the midseason acquisition of running back Christian McCaffrey transformed the offense and the season," NFL writer Nick Wagoner wrote. "The Niners are 9-1 since acquiring McCaffrey, with the lone loss coming only a couple of days after his arrival, in a game in which he had a limited role. Now, San Francisco is riding a nine-game winning streak, the longest by any Niners team since 1997."
USA Today also ranked the 49ers as the No. 3 team in the league.
"Now riding a league-best nine-game hot streak, though lucky to get out of Las Vegas with a win Sunday, the Niners haven't even had WR Deebo Samuel for their three most recent victories," NFL writer Nate Davis wrote.