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NFC West Playoff Picture: Can The San Francisco 49ers Pull Out The Division Title?

The San Francisco 49ers, lauded all offseason long as the de facto NFC West favorites, fell flat to kick off the 2010 season, starting off 0-5 and were immediately discounted for any playoff consideration. However, the rest of the teams in the division refused to pull away from their grasp, and after beating the division leading Seattle Seahawks, they're right back in the discussion with three weeks left to play.

Here are the current NFC West standings.


NFC West Standings

W L T PF PA
St. Louis 6 7 0 245 268
Seattle 6 7 0 261 329
San Francisco 5 8 0 243 280
Arizona 4 9 0 243 351

(updated 12.12.2010 at 8:37 PM PST)


Also important are the records for each team against the NFC West and against the NFC conference, since those are the next tiebreakers.

Here are the remaining schedules.

St. Louis Rams (6-7)


Rams Schedule

Arizona Sun 09/12 L 13 - 17
@ Oakland Sun 09/19 L 14 - 16
Washington Sun 09/26 W 30 - 16
Seattle Sun 10/03 W 20 - 3
@ Detroit Sun 10/10 L 6 - 44
San Diego Sun 10/17 W 20 - 17
@ Tampa Bay Sun 10/24 L 17 - 18
Carolina Sun 10/31 W 20 - 10
@ San Francisco Sun 11/14 L 20 - 23
Atlanta Sun 11/21 L 17 - 34
@ Denver Sun 11/28 W 36 - 33
@ Arizona Sun 12/05 W 19 - 6
@ New Orleans Sun 12/12 L 13 - 31
Kansas City Sun 12/19 10:00 AM PST
San Francisco Sun 12/26 10:00 AM PST
@ Seattle Sun 01/02 1:15 PM PST

Important records: 2-2 vs. NFC West, 4-6 vs. NFC, 1-1 vs. Arizona, 0-1 vs. San Francisco, 1-0 vs. Seattle

St. Louis controls its own destiny. They win out, they win the West. They can even lose to Kansas City next week as long as they win their final two divisional games, since it would give them the head-to-head tiebreaker over Seattle and the conference tiebreaker over San Francisco.

Both the Kansas City and San Francisco games are at home (and the Rams are 4-2 in their dome), but neither of them will be gimees for rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. A New Year's date in Seattle is also not the ideal place for a quarterback to finish his season.

Seattle Seahawks (6-7)


Seahawks Schedule

San Francisco Sun 09/12 W 31 - 6
@ Denver Sun 09/19 L 14 - 31
San Diego Sun 09/26 W 27 - 20
@ St. Louis Sun 10/03 L 3 - 20
@ Chicago Sun 10/17 W 23 - 20
Arizona Sun 10/24 W 22 - 10
@ Oakland Sun 10/31 L 3 - 33
New York Giants Sun 11/07 L 7 - 41
@ Arizona Sun 11/14 W 36 - 18
@ New Orleans Sun 11/21 L 19 - 34
Kansas City Sun 11/28 L 24 - 42
Carolina Sun 12/05 W 31 - 14
@ San Francisco Sun 12/12 L 21 - 40
Atlanta Sun 12/19 1:05 PM PST
@ Tampa Bay Sun 12/26 10:00 AM PST
St. Louis Sun 01/02 1:15 PM PST

Important records: 3-2 vs NFC West, 5-4 vs. NFC, 2-0 vs. Arizona, 0-1 vs. St. Louis, 1-1 vs. San Francisco

Like the Rams, if the Seahawks win out, they're still in the driver seat. Embarrassing loss to San Francisco aside, they're still a game ahead of the Niners and don't have to worry about them ... yet. If they keep on winning, and beat St. Louis at home the final week, they'll earn a playoff spot.

A loss to Atlanta will change everything though. The good news is the Falcons are coming to their house (as opposed to in the Georgia Dome, where they're unbeatable), so it might give them a puncher's chance. But they also have to go to Tampa Bay, which will not be easy. Safe to say of all the teams in the NFC West, Seattle has the hardest road to the finish.

San Francisco 49ers (5-8)


49ers Schedule

@ Seattle Sun 09/12 L 6 - 31
New Orleans Mon 09/20 L 22 - 25
@ Kansas City Sun 09/26 L 10 - 31
@ Atlanta Sun 10/03 L 14 - 16
Philadelphia Sun 10/10 L 24 - 27
Oakland Sun 10/17 W 17 - 9
@ Carolina Sun 10/24 L 20 - 23
Denver Sun 10/31 W 24 - 16
St. Louis Sun 11/14 W 23 - 20
Tampa Bay Sun 11/21 L 0 - 21
@ Arizona Mon 11/29 W 27 - 6
@ Green Bay Sun 12/05 L 16 - 34
Seattle Sun 12/12 W 40 - 21
@ San Diego Thu 12/16 5:20 PM PST
@ St. Louis Sun 12/26 10:00 AM PST
Arizona Sun 01/02 1:15 PM PST

Important records: 3-1 vs. NFC West, 3-7 vs. NFC, 1-0 vs. Arizona, 1-0 vs St. Louis, 1-1 vs. Seattle

San Francisco doesn't have the same luxury as the two division leaders; they almost assuredly have to win out (or at the very least go 2-1, with those two wins against divisional foes) to have a good shot at making this incredible comeback from their horrid start. If they can overcome a tough Thursday night test in San Diego though, they'll be in pretty good shape. They can make up with St. Louis by beating them the day after Christmas, and they should have a gimme game the final week of the season if they win their last two road contests.

They are the only team in the division that has proven they can beaten every other squad in the West, so they definitely know how to beat all their divisional foes. If the Niners beat the Rams and Cardinals, the Seahawks will have to lose one of their games for San Francisco to win the divisional tiebreaker.

Arizona Cardinals (4-9)


Cardinals Schedule

@ St. Louis Sun 09/12 W 17 - 13
@ Atlanta Sun 09/19 L 7 - 41
Oakland Sun 09/26 W 24 - 23
@ San Diego Sun 10/03 L 10 - 41
New Orleans Sun 10/10 W 30 - 20
@ Seattle Sun 10/24 L 10 - 22
Tampa Bay Sun 10/31 L 35 - 38
@ Minnesota Sun 11/07 L 24 - 27
Seattle Sun 11/14 L 18 - 36
@ Kansas City Sun 11/21 L 13 - 31
San Francisco Mon 11/29 L 6 - 27
St. Louis Sun 12/05 L 6 - 19
Denver Sun 12/12 W 43 - 13
@ Carolina Sun 12/19 10:00 AM PST
Dallas Sat 12/25 4:30 PM PST
@ San Francisco Sun 01/02 1:15 PM PST

Important records: 1-4 vs. NFC West, 2-7 vs. NFC, 1-1 vs St. Louis, 0-1 vs. San Francisco, 0-2 vs. Seattle

Arizona needs ALL sorts of help, as they're on the cusp of elimination. Unless some sort of bizarre tiebreaker occurs, the Seahawks need to lose all three games to fall to 6-10 (Seattle owns the head-to-head), the Cardinals need to win all three games, the 49ers need to lose an additional game to fall to 6-10 (San Francisco has the divisional and conference tiebreaker advantages), and the Rams need to lose out (St. Louis has the divisional tiebreaker).

Arizona does play Carolina in a battle of some of the worst teams in football, so they can probably stave off eliminating themselves. But to stay alive, the rest of the teams in their division are going to have to live up to the moniker of the "NFC Worst."