So let’s take a moment and look at how the 49ers tie against the Rams could impact playoff seeding. In retrospect, that tie was no better than a loss for San Francisco. As an initial matter, the team is battling Seattle for the NFC West crown. San Francisco plays in Seattle in week 16; if the Seahawks win, they have a legitimate shot at the division. Right now they’re 1.5 games behind the 49ers, and the rest of the Seahawks schedule (ARI, @BUF, STL) is manageable; meanwhile, San Francisco also has to go to New England. If the Seahawks run the table and the Patriots beat the 49ers, the Seahawks win the NFC West.
Had the 49ers defeated the Rams, even losing to Seattle and New England in the last two weeks wouldn’t cost them the division. That’s because Seattle already lost in Arizona, St. Louis, and San Francisco, so the 49ers would have won the tiebreaker. A win would have been helpful, while that tie against the Rams comes out as no more helpful than a loss — in either case, San Francisco would have 10 wins to Seattle’s 11. Since they would have had the tiebreaker, the difference between a win and a tie was much larger than the difference between a tie and a loss (which was essentially nothing).
But perhaps the more important race is against the Packers for the #2 seed. San Francisco is unlikely to lose to both Seattle and New England while the Seahawks run the table, so I think 49ers fans are more concerned about securing that bye. Right now, the 49ers are just a half-game ahead of Green Bay. Since the 49ers defeated the Packers, they would have held the tiebreaker if the two teams finished with the same record. Therefore, just like in the case of the Seahawks, “salvaging” a tie against the Rams will end up having been meaningless.
With that, perhaps it is time to turn our attention to the bottom of the list. We can skip from the top to the bottom after this short break
Now that that’s covered, the race for the #1 draft pick is on. Jason Lisk did a nice job handicapping the race, placing the Chiefs in the pole position but giving both the Raiders and Jaguars a better than 20% chance of the top pick. Football Outsiders sees things slightly different, giving both Kansas City and Jacksonville a two-in-five chance of shouting “We’re #1″… in April.
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