The San Francisco 49ers picked up a big win on Monday night as they knocked off the Pittsburgh Steelers to improve to an 11-3 record. The Niners have known for weeks now that they're headed to the playoffs, but they're still anxious to clinch the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye, to say nothing of home field advantage.
As it currently stands -- and you can check out the entire playoff picture over at ESPN -- the 49ers sit in the No. 2 seed. They have the same 11-3 record as the New Orleans Saints, but hold a tiebreaker over the Saints based on winning percentage in the two teams' respective conferences. What this means is that if both the Saints and the 49ers record the same record over the final two weeks of the season, San Francisco will be awarded the No. 2 seed.
Of course, the best option for the Niners is simply to win the final two games of 2011 no matter what. Since they will be facing the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams in those two games, that goal is well within their reach.
If we're talking about long shots, the 49ers actually still have a shot at claiming the No. 1 seed in the playoffs, if they should win those next two games and the Green Bay Packers should somehow lose their next two. Seems unlikely, but stranger things have certainly happened.
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