NFC playoffs: How 49ers sit in wild-card race after Saints’ loss to Dolphins

SANTA CLARA — Can Jimmy Garoppolo play through a thumb injury? Is Trey Lance ready to rush to the rescue?

Regardless of those quarterback questions, the bigger-picture one is whether any 49ers will have a chance to play in the playoffs. Their chances improved Monday night, by virtue of the New Orleans Saints’ 20-3 loss to the Miami Dolphins.

That result helped the 49ers (8-7) regain control of their playoff destiny: they can win out and make the NFC’s seven-team field.

Fullback Kyle Juszczyk, after Thursday night’s loss at Tennessee, couldn’t avert his eyes from the ensuing games involving other NFC wild-card contenders, including Monday’s.

“It’s hard not to when it does affect us so much and how invested we are in this thing. It’s hard to turn a blind eye to it,” Juszczyk said after Monday’s practice.

The Saints’ loss bumped the 49ers’ playoff odds from 69 percent to 76 percent, according to FiveThirtyEight.com.

The 49ers can clinch a playoff spot Sunday, if, first, the Saints (7-8) lose to the Carolina Panthers (5-10), then the 49ers win their home finale over the Houston Texans (4-11)

The regular season concludes Jan. 9 when the 49ers visit the NFC West-leading Los Angeles Rams (11-4) in a matchup that might be repeated the following weekend in the “Super Wild-Card Round.”

Had the Saints won Monday night, they could have run the table and forced the 49ers out of the playoff picture if the Philadelphia Eagles also won out to finish 10-7, by virtue of tiebreakers involving conference record and results against common opponents.

Here is a team-by-team breakdown of those the 49ers are vying for playoff spots with and information that could factor into a two-team tiebreaker:

* * *

Rams (11-4) — current No. 3 seed

Remaining schedule: at Ravens (Sunday); vs. 49ers (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Vikings, split with Cardinals

Conference record: 8-3

Strength of victory: .391

Strength of schedule: 464

* * *

Cardinals (10-5) — No. 5

Remaining schedule: at Cowboys (Sunday); vs. Seahawks (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: 49ers (two), Vikings; Seahawks (Jan. 9 rematch awaits); split with Rams

Conference record: 6-4

Strength of victory: .447

Strength of schedule: 473

* * *

49ERS (8-7) — No. 6

Remaining schedule: vs. Houston Texans (Sunday); at Rams (Jan. 9; could flex to Jan. 8)

Head-to-head wins: Falcons, Eagles, Vikings, Rams (Jan. 9 rematch awaits)

Conference record: 6-5

Common games: If both teams finish 9-8, the 49ers could lose this category to the Saints, who’d improve to 3-3 with a Week 18 win over the Falcons; the 49ers are locked in at 2-4 against common opponents.

Strength of victory: .429

Strength of schedule: .500

* * *

Eagles (8-7) — No. 7

Remaining schedule: at Washington (Sunday); vs. Cowboys (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Saints, Falcons, Washington

Conference record: 6-4

Strength of victory: .354

Strength of schedule: .460

* * *

Vikings (7-8)

Remaining schedule: at Packers (Monday night); vs. Bears (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Seahawks

Conference record: 5-5

Strength of victory: .429

Strength of schedule: .496

* * *

Falcons (7-8)

Remaining schedule: at Bills (Jan. 2); vs. Saints (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Saints

Conference record: 3-10

Strength of victory: .306

Strength of schedule: .451

* * *

Saints (7-8)

Remaining schedule: vs. Panthers (Sunday); at Falcons (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Washington, Buccaneers (twice, if it comes down to NFC South title)

Conference record: 5-5

Strength of victory: .552

Strength of schedule: .533

* * *

Washington (6-9)

Remaining schedule: vs. Eagles (Jan. 2); at Giants (Jan. 9)

Head-to-head wins: Seahawks

Conference record: 5-5

Strength of victory: .444

Strength of schedule: .551

© 2022 KFMF-FM. Internet Development by Frankly Media.