Even after their tough loss to the Tennessee Titans last week, the 49ers still are in the NFC playoff picture.
And the 49ers' chances of making the playoffs got even better when the shorthanded New Orleans Saints lost to the Miami Dolphins on Monday Night Football.
Before that, the Saints (7-8) had a chance to finish the season 10-7 and put the Niners in a difficult situation.
Thankfully for the 49ers (8-7), the playoff odds are now in their favor.
NBC News national political correspondent Steve Kornacki explained the different ways San Francisco can keep its hopes alive past the regular season.
“It’s very simple for the Niners,” Kornacki said. “If they do win their final two games, they control their playoff fate, they’ll be in the playoffs. Nothing else would need to happen.”
A simple scenario, but not necessarily a complete breeze for the red and gold.
The 49ers host the Houston Texans (4-11) at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday. A winnable game for the Niners, but of course, anything can happen.
“If the Niners do what the [Los Angeles] Chargers couldn’t do last week, if they do get this win, their playoff chances are going to jump, according to our model, over 90 percent, into the mid-90s (94 percent),” Kornacki said.
But if the Texans upset the 49ers, the Niners’ chances of making playoffs drop dramatically to 55 percent.
And that’s mainly because of what they have to deal with during the final week of the season where the stakes are much higher.
San Francisco would face the Los Angeles Rams (11-4), who are in first place in the NFC West, in LA coming off a loss to the Texans. But the last time the two teams played each other in Santa Clara, the 49ers came out on top, winning by a final score of 31-10.
“It’s very possible if the Niners lose to the Texans, they then also lose to the Rams and things could get very ugly at that point,” Kornacki said.
But of course, it gets even more complex.
What if San Francisco does win this weekend against Houston, but then loses to the Rams?
In that case, the 49ers would finish 9-8, and their playoff fate would then depend on other teams.
There are different tie-breaker scenarios that would favor San Francisco if they do finish 9-8.
However, the one scenario the Niners have to worry about is if there’s a three-way tie for the final spot and it came down to San Francisco, the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans.
Still, Kornacki said the PFF model gives the 49ers an 87 percent chance of making the playoffs.
But it’s Week 17, so anything can go.
Buckle up and let the fun begin.