For the first time in a long time, both the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders find themselves in the thick of the NFL playoff picture in their respective divisions well into December. The last time the Raiders played a meaningful December game was 2002 when they went to the Super Bowl. The 49ers have technically been alive in the playoff race into December in recent years, but the number of meaningful December games can be counted on one hand.
As has been discussed numerous times, both teams find themselves in important battles this weekend, with the Raiders hosting the Denver Broncos and the 49ers traveling to the San Diego Chargers. While both will be battling for victories, they also have a shared game, each hoping for the opposite result.
On Sunday at 10am pacific, the Kansas City Chiefs and St. Louis Rams will square off in St. Louis. If the Chiefs win, the 49ers could move into a tie with the Rams or at the very least hold serve for one more week. If the Rams win, the Raiders will have the huge opportunity to cut the AFC West lead to one game with two remaining.
I suppose the alternative would be a tie, although that would certainly benefit the 49ers more than the Chiefs given the difference in divisional leads. Whatever the result, 49ers and Raiders fans will be paying close attention Sunday morning.