The 49ers slid up into the No. 2 spot in the NFC on Sunday with a win over the Raiders, but that doesn’t mean they will be there in a week when the regular season ends.
San Francisco went to Las Vegas and earned a 37-34 overtime win over the Raiders while the Vikings fell to the Packers at Lambeau Field 41-17, pushing Minnesota to the No. 3 seed. Meanwhile, the Eagles lost 20-10 at home to the Saints, leaving the door open for the 49ers to move up to the No. 1 spot in the conference.
If the current standings hold, the Niners would host the Seahawks in the wild-card round (Jan. 14-16). But a win over the Cardinals next week paired with a loss by Philadelphia against the Giants would push San Francisco to the top spot in the conference and give the 49ers a bye until the divisional round, when they’d play against the lowest-seeded NFC team remaining. Seattle is not a lock for that final playoff spot, though: A Green Bay win over Detroit next week would put the Packers in over the Seahawks and the Lions would get in with a win and a Seahawks loss.
While the 49ers are riding a nine-game winning streak, Philadelphia has lost two in a row following an injury to the right throwing shoulder of starting quarterback Jalen Hurts. MVP candidate Hurts is expected to play in Week 18 with the conference’s top seed on the line, according to a Sunday morning report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. It’s with good reason, too: if the Eagles lose and the Cowboys win in Washington, Dallas will be NFC East champion and Philadelphia will be the No. 5 seed.
The 49ers have not played the Eagles or Vikings yet this season, so the head-to-head tiebreaker does not apply to them. The next tiebreaker is conference record, which San Francisco leads over both opponents. A win over Arizona would clinch that tiebreaker.
In the event that the 49ers drop to the No. 3 seed with a loss and a Vikings win, they would face the Giants on that opening weekend of the playoffs. They cannot fall to the No. 4 seed, which was wrapped up by the Buccaneers with a win Sunday over Carolina. Tampa Bay is locked in to host the second place team in the NFC East, likely Dallas but still possibly Philadelphia, in a wild-card matchup.
No. 1 seed: Win vs. Cardinals plus Eagles loss vs. Giants
No. 2 seed: Win vs. Cardinals plus Eagles win vs. Giants OR
Loss vs. Cardinals plus Vikings loss vs. Bears
No. 3 seed: Loss vs. Cardinals plus Vikings win vs. Bears