The San Francisco 49ers head into Week 17 of the 2011 NFL season with the number two seed right there for the grabbing. The 49ers can secure the two seed and accompanying first round bye if they defeat the St. Louis Rams or the New Orleans Saints lose to the Carolina Panthers. Given the injuries that the 49ers are now dealing with (Delanie Walker, Kyle Williams, Ted Ginn Jr.), a bye week would be quite fortuitous.
This final weekend of the regular season features games that primarily will impact some of playoff positioning within the NFC. The NFC East remains to be decided, but five of the other six playoff spots are secured. The two wild card teams, Atlanta and Detroit, are shuffling for fifth and sixth seed positioning, but otherwise, the slate is fairly set in the NFC.
San Francisco 49ers @ St. Louis Rams: The 49ers could head into this game with a receiving corps of Michael Crabtree, Brett Swain and Joe Hastings, but they remain heavy favorites against a Rams team that is trying to figure anything out. The 49ers will go with a heavy dose of Frank Gore, Kendall Hunter and their dominant defense in hopes of putting this game away early. PICK: 49ers
Carolina Panthers @ New Orleans Saints: The Panthers are playing solid football lately and Cam Newton should run away with Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, the Saints are playing dominant football at home this season. This could be a really fun game to watch. PICK: Saints
Dallas Cowboys @ New York Giants: A week or two ago it seemed like the Cowboys were going to lock the NFC East up. Instead, they find themselves in position for a minor collapse. I've got a feeling the Giants pull this one out at home. PICK: Giants
Tampa Bay Buccaneers @ Atlanta Falcons: The Bucs are in the midst of a 2011 collapse that has been unbearable to watch. At the same time, if the Lions beat a Packers team that has nothing to play for, this becomes a toss-up since Atlanta would have nothing to play for due to being a game back of Detroit. PICK: Falcons
Detroit Lions @ Green Bay Packers: Green Bay is more than likely going to give their starters some rest time this week. At the same time, a single half could be all they need to put together a decent sized lead against the Lions. This game is a toss-up and one you should avoid when it comes to wagering. PICK: Packers