SAN FRANCISCO, CA - DECEMBER 04: Head Coach Jim Harbaugh and quarterback Alex Smith #11 of the San Francisco 49ers celebrates after Smith throws a fifty six yard touchdwon pass to Kyle Williams #10 against the St Louis Rams at Candlestick Park on December 4, 2011 in San Francisco, California. The 49ers won the game 26-0. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

2012 NFL Playoffs: 49ers Look To Improve Playoff Positioning

The San Francisco 49ers are now in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, winning the NFC West on Sunday when they shutout the St. Louis Rams 26-0. Now they're going to be focusing on playoff seeding. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Look To Lock Up No. 2 Seed

The 49ers playoff positioning scenario is fairly simply in Week 17. At 12-3, the 49ers are tied with the New Orleans Saints for the second best record behind the Green Bay Packers. If the 49ers beat the St. Louis Rams or the Saints lost to the Carolina Panthers, the 49ers claim the number two seed. If the reverse happens, the 49ers drop to the number three seed.

Both games will be airing at 10:00am PT, so neither team will have an advantage in terms of resting players. However, if the 49ers are blowing out the Rams in the second half, it is possible Saints might make a move to start resting some of their starters since a bye would be unlikely at that point. It makes for an intriguing chess match on Sunday.

The rest of the NFC is close to set, but there is still some drama left. The big game is Sunday Night Football between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. The winner goes to the playoffs as NFC East champion and the loser goes home with nothing. It should make for a hotly contested game.

The Lions currently hold the number five seed and the Falcons are sitting at number six with a chance to climb past the Lions. Detroit travels to Green Bay in the morning and Atlanta hosts Tampa Bay in the afternoon. The Packers have nothing to play for having clinched the number one seed and lost their first game two weeks ago. It will be interesting to see how many players they try and rest and how soon that happens. If Detroit gets the victory, Atlanta will have nothing to play for in the afternoon and could end up resting several starters.


Week 17 NFL Picks And Predictions: 49ers Look To Lock Up No. 2 Seed

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


NFL Playoff Picture: Saints Win Means 49ers Can't Rest Against Rams For No. 2 Seed

The San Francisco 49ers will have to play this season out to its end, at least if they want a first round bye in the 2012 NFL Playoffs. First, they had their hopes at a potential No. 1 seed extinguished on Sunday Night Football, when Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers locked it up by beating the tar out of [insert any team in the NFL not from Kansas City here]. Then on Monday Night Football, Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints abused the Atlanta Falcons from start to finish.

That brought the Saints to match the 49ers at 12-3, and it means San Francisco will have to complete a sweep of the St. Louis Rams to maintain the No. 2 seed, a first-round bye and home-field advantage unless a match against Green Bay happens. San Francisco holds the tiebreak over New Orleans and there's no way that can change in Week 17, so it's a pretty simple thing for San Francisco: win and they get the No. 2 seed.

It likely changes a lot of how San Francisco was going to approach the game. Had New Orleans lost, it's likely that Alex Smith would have either not played or been taken out of the game early. Frank Gore probably would have rested, along with several defensive players such as Carlos Rogers and Justin Smith.

New Orleans will take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 17. Judging by the way Drew Brees efficiently destroyed the Falcons on Monday, it will be very tough for Cam Newton to lead the Panthers to a win. The Saints just seem near unstoppable right now. San Francisco will likely need to beat the Rams to lock up a bye week. That being said, they might get to rest some starters anyway.

Because, you know, it's the Rams.


NFL Playoff Picture: Packers Secure No. 1 Seed; 49ers, Saints Battle For No. 2

It was a short-lived dream for the San Francisco 49ers, but when the Kansas City Chiefs pulled off the upset and ended the Green Bay Packers' undefeated streak, it became possible for Jim Harbaugh's team to take over the No. 1 seed in the playoffs. All they needed was the Packers to completely tank the remaining games, while winning out their own, and they'd hold the tiebreak by way of a Green Bay loss to the Detroit Lions.

But on Sunday Night Football, Green Bay not only beat the Chicago Bears to secure to No. 1 seed, they dominated. As far as Green Bay domination in 2011 goes, it was rather pedestrian, but domination nonetheless (after the first few possessions, that is). I suppose if you had, say, the entirety of the Chicago Bears rushing attack on your fantasy teams this week, you came out alright, but other than that, the Bears were effectively eliminated from the playoffs.

Still, it's significant for the 49ers. That means that, if they make it far enough, they'll have to take on the Packers at Lambeau Field. One of the TV announcers (I don't remember which) remarked that San Francisco was the one team that he felt could go to Green Bay and play well, so take that for what it's worth.

It now means the 49ers will shoot for a first-round bye via the No. 2 seed, so they'll be watching the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football as they take on the Atlanta Falcons. If the Saints win, the 49ers will need to win their Week 17 matchup against the St. Louis Rams to get the No. 2 seed, but if New Orleans loses, then the 49ers guarantee themselves a first-round bye and a divisional round home game. If the Packers happen to be eliminated in the divisional round and the 49ers get past their opponent in that scenario, then they'd be hosting a championship game, as well.


NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Closing In On No. 2 Seed

The San Francisco 49ers clawed and battled their way to victory on Saturday as they held off the Seattle Seahawks in a 19-17 victory at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. It was not pretty, but it was effective as the 49ers improved to 12-3, ensuring their first 12-win season since 2001.

The 49ers moved a half game ahead of the New Orleans Saints for the second seed in the NFC playoff race. The Saints play the Falcons on Monday Night Football looking to maintain pace with the 49ers at 12-3. The 49ers hold the tiebreaker due to conference record, which means if the 49ers defeat the St. Louis Rams next week, they clinch the two seed. The same holds true with a Saints loss on Monday or next week.

The 49ers actually have a shot at the number one seed as well. They currently sit a game and a half back of the Green Bay Packers, who will be hosting the Chicago Bears on Sunday Night Football. If the Packers lose to the Bears and next week to the Detroit Lions, a 49ers win over the Rams would actually lock up the number one seed for the 49ers. The odds are slim, but it remains in play for the time-being.

In other playoff news, the Detroit Lions locked up one of the two wild card slots as they improved to 10-5 with a big win over the San Diego Chargers. The Atlanta Falcons are closing in on the other wild card berth and maintain the edge even if the lose to the Saints on Monday. The Giants and Cowboys will square off on Sunday Night Football next week with the winner taking the NFC East and the winner going home for the offseason.


NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Continue Pursuit Of Top Seed

The San Francisco 49ers will travel to Washington to face the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday. Although the Niners clinched a postseason spot weeks ago, the combination of a Green Bay Packers loss and a dominant win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football has the San Francisco squad thinking about the possibility of taking the top seed in the playoffs and guaranteeing home field advantage throughout the postseason.

As unlikely as it may seem, if the Packers should happen to lose the last two games of the season and the Niners win their final two, San Francisco would claim the top overall seed. As things currently stand, the 49ers are sitting in the No. 2 overall seed. Despite the New Orleans Saints holding an identical 11-3 record, the Niners hold tiebreak advantage over the Saints based on a better winning percentage in conference games. So if both teams win their final two games, combined with either one or two Packers wins, the 49ers would take the No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

As things currently stand, the only thing that would have the Niners finishing lower than No. 2 would be the Saints holding a better record over these last two games. You can be sure that the squad is determined to finish out the season without dropping another game and grabbing that first-round bye.

For all news and information regarding the San Francisco 49ers, please visit Niners Nation.


NFL Playoff Picture: Saints, Packers Create All Sorts Of 49ers Intrigue

The San Francisco 49ers find themselves in an interesting position as Week 15 rolls along and the NFL playoff picture clears itself up. The short explanation is that if the 49ers win out, they will claim at least the number two seed. They have a shot at the number one seed, but it would take a fairly unexpected occurrence these next couple weeks. They are also in a position where a single loss could drop them down the the third seed and no first round bye.

The New Orleans Saints handled their business on Sunday as they blew out the Minnesta Vikings 42-20. Drew Brees had a monster day throwing for 412 yards and five touchdowns as he continues his pursuit of Dan Marino's single season passing yardage record. Brees needs only 304 yards over the next two games to match Marino's 1984 record.

The victory moves the Saints a half game ahead of the 49ers for the number two seed. If the 49ers defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football, they will move back into a tie with the Saints. The 49ers hold the conference record tiebreaker and also the tiebreaker for record against common opponents.

The playoff picture also grew murkier in the battle for the number one seed. The Green Bay Packers lost a shocker to the Kansas City Chiefs and now sit at 13-1. If the 49ers win out and the Packers lose their remaining two games, the 49ers would actually claim the number one seed courtesy of the common opponents tiebreaker. The likelihood of the Packers losing their remaining two games is slim, but Week 15 is showing that crazy things can happen.


NFL Playoff Positioning: 49ers Look To Move Closer To First Round Bye

The San Francisco 49ers are off until Monday when they face the Steelers, but they can still move closer to a possible first round bye on Sunday. The 49ers are tied with the New Orleans Saints at 10-3 and if the 49ers win their final three games they secure the bye courtesy of the conference record tiebreaker. However, given how close they are in the standings, the 49ers will be rooting for optimal results on Sunday.

The Saints will head on the road to face the Minnesota Vikings in a game in which the Saints are favored by nine points. While the Saints offense would appear to benefit from playing inside the Metrodome, they showed in losing the St. Louis Rams that anything is possible. They should roll through Minnesota, but the NFL has featured some crazy results this season.

Other than that, the 49ers are simply waiting to see what the postseason will bring them. If they drop out of the number two spot, they are likely going to finish no worse than the three seed. At this point that means a return engagement with the Detroit Lions, but the wildcard is far from cleared up. The Lions finish the season at Oakland, home against San Diego and at Green Bay. That is a tough stretch to wrap things up and could very well cost them a playoff spot.


2012 NFL Playoffs: San Francisco 49ers Potential Opponents Playing Well

The San Francisco 49ers have secured their spot in the 2012 NFL playoffs, although their seeding and potential opponent is yet to be determined. Assuming a late-season collapse is not in the cards, the 49ers will likely be the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in the NFC. With the Saints nipping right at their heels, a first round bye is hardly a sure thing at this point in the season.

The Falcons came away with a big victory on Thursday night football, improving their record to 9-5. Atlanta is now in the driver's seat for a wild card bid and will likely be the No. 5 seed. Among the teams battling for the sixth and final seed, the Cowboys, Giants, Lions and Bears are all in the hunt. Between Dallas and New York one of those teams will claim the No. 4 seed for winning the NFC East, which essentially leaves three teams fighting for one spot.

In week 15, the Lions will face the Raiders in Oakland, the Bears will host the Seahawks, the Cowboys will head to Tampa Bay and the Giants get the Redskins at home.

Simply put, the 49ers just needs to take care of business in the final three weeks of the season. Should the team have to face the Saints in the divisional round, they do not want to play at the Super Dome in New Orleans.

For more on the 49ers, head on over to Niners Nation.


NFL Playoff Picture: Games That Impacted The 2012 NFL Playoffs

As the 2011-12 NFL regular season nears its end, the entire focus is on playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. For the San Francisco 49ers, their spot in the playoffs is guaranteed, already having clinched the NFC West division, but the seeding remains up in the air. San Francisco is currently the No. 2 seed, but are closer to losing that after a loss this weekend. For now, a look at the games that mattered this weekend.

San Francisco 49ers 19, Arizona Cardinals 21

The 49ers really should have done better against the Cardinals, and the loss cost them dearly. They move to 10-3 on the season with a tough matchup against Pittsburgh coming up on Monday Night Football. They were dominated on offense and had to settle for multiple field goals. They remain the one seed, either way. It also keeps the Cardinals in the hunt for the wild card, but they're not "in", as it stands.

New Orleans Saints 22, Tennessee Titans 17

Tennessee actually kept this game really close and held the lead at one point, but Drew Brees led the Saints to a couple quick scoring drives to take the lead they wouldn't relinquish, and they moved to 10-3 on the season. The 49ers hold the edge in the tiebreaker with wins over common opponents, but they're threatening to take the second seed away.

New York Giants 37, Dallas Cowboys 34

As always, the division winner will be one of the top four seeds, and with the win on Sunday Night Football, the Giants took the lead in the NFC East and thus, the No. 4 seed in the playoffs, at least for now. Eli Manning led the Giants on a late-game comeback, and then Tom Coughlin successfully iced the kicker, and New York got the win.

Detroit Lions 34, Minnesota Vikings 28

The Lions successfully avoided a trap game against the rival Vikings. Minnesota came out playing very well, and it really came down to the last minute, with a big stop by Detroit. They have lost to all of the top three seeds in the playoffs, and will have a chip on their shoulder, currently as a wild card.

Atlanta Falcons 31, Carolina Panthers 23

Atlanta is playing very well lately, and would be a higher seed if it weren't for the fact that they're in the same division as the Saints. The Panthers proved to be game opponents, but Atlanta came out on top in the end, and they are solidly in the wild card hunt.

A look at the current NFC seeding below:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Giants
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Detroit Lions


NFL Playoff Picture: 49ers Lose, Saints Win And Playoff Seeding Gets Interesting

As we already noted, the San Francisco 49ers sorely want to avoid a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome in Louisiana. Quarterback Drew Brees is just too good there, and the only way the 49ers can avoid that is be maintaining the second seed in the NFC. It also would award them a first-round bye, and less games between a team and the coveted Lombardi Trophy is always a positive.

But their hopes of a second seed took a big hit on Sunday, when they lost to the Arizona Cardinals, while the Saints won their game over the Tennessee Titans, and moved to 10-3, a record both team's share. Fortunately for the 49ers, if the playoffs were to begin today, they'd hold the edge in the tiebreak and still remain the second seed. Unfortunately, they have a Monday Night Football showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on the horizon and that could be a tough game to get past.

Following that game, San Francisco has games against the Seattle Seahawks and St. Louis Rams - both games that they should win, but then again, they should have beaten the Cardinals. Either way, as it stands, the 49ers are the second seed in the NFC. Here's a look at the seeding as it stands:

1. Green Bay Packers
2. San Francisco 49ers
3. New Orleans Saints
4. New York Giants
5. Atlanta Falcons
6. Detroit Lions


2012 NFL Playoffs: 49ers Want To Avoid Game Against Saints At The Superdome

The San Francisco 49ers are officially in the playoffs, and that means they're looking ahead to games potentially against the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints. Right now, the 49ers are a number two seed, and that's something they sorely need to maintain. Aside from avoiding a wildcard game with a first round bye, the team needs to assure itself a home playoff game when the divisional round comes along.

There's one team in particular that the 49ers should be especially wary of, aside from the obvious Packers - who will likely be a force to be reckoned with in the NFC Championship game. This other team is almost as daunting a task to overcome as Green Bay, under certain circumstances. That team is, of course, the New Orleans Saints. The circumstance is playing them at home - the Superdome.

Drew Brees has been ridiculously efficient and deadly in domes over the past few seasons, especially at home in the Superdome. The team is doing great either way with a 9-3 record, but they're undefeated at home, sitting at 6-0. They've scored a total of 239 points at home, for an average of 39 points a game. Brees has thrown for just under 2000 yards at home this season, with an average yardage total of 321 yards per game. He's thrown for 20 touchdowns just at home, more than Alex Smith has thrown all season, with an average QB rating of 120.5.

On the road, his numbers have been only slightly worse in some categories and even better in others - but historically, the Superdome is where Brees can win football games. The 49ers need to finish ahead of them so they can host a game at Candlestick Park, a place where the 49ers have played well on primetime, and what's more primetime than the NFL playoffs?

If the 49ers win out, they secure the second seed, even if New Orleans wins out. If the 49ers lose one game and the Saints win out, the 49ers will still win the tie-breaker. With three games against the NFC West coming up, San Francisco can afford to lose one - but they should be playing as hard as possible at this point. The threat of the Superdome is a real one.


NFL Playoff Picture 2011, Week 14: If The Season Ended Today

The regular season is quickly coming to an end and many teams are currently jockeying for playoff positioning in the NFC. With the Green Bay Packers essentially clinching the No. 1 seed and home field advantage throughout, there will be a wild dash to the finish between the San Francisco 49ers, New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys for the No. 2 seed and a first round bye.

Entering week 14, the playoff picture has the 49ers (10-2) at the No. 2 seed and the team currently has a one-game advantage over the Saints, who enter with a record of 9-3. The Cowboys (7-5) will likely have to win the rest of their remaining games if they hope to earn home field advantage, and even then they are still likely to end up with the No. 3 or No. 4 seed.

Four teams in the NFC appear to be in contention for the two wild card spots. The Atlanta Falcons, Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions all feature an identical record of 7-5, while the New York Giants are one game back at 6-6.

Right now, many feel the three best teams in the conference are the Packers, 49ers and Saints. With these three unlikely to meet up until the divisional round, the next four weeks are absolutely huge as they attempt to earn the highest seeding possible. San Francisco benefits from a favorable schedule the rest of the way (@ Arizona, Pittsburgh, @ Seattle, @ St. Louis) and the team could be well on their way to the No. 2 seed in the NFC.

For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.


49ers Clinch NFC West, Now Are Competing Against A Different Caliber Of Opponent

The San Francisco 49ers are now in the playoffs for the first time since 2002, winning the NFC West on Sunday when they shutout the St. Louis Rams 26-0. Now they're going to be focusing on playoff seeding. For more on the 49ers, check out Niners Nation.

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