49ers

49ers' pivotal game vs. Vikings has added playoff ramifications

49ers

The 49ers' pivotal matchup with the Minnesota Vikings in Week 12 took on added importance with the New Orleans Saints' loss to the Buffalo Bills on Thanksgiving night.

The Saints' loss dropped New Orleans out of the No. 7 seed, allowing the 49ers to slide into that spot. Minnesota sits at No. 6 going into Sunday's game, and a 49ers win over the Vikings would vault San Francisco into the sixth seed. Now that there are seven playoff teams per conference, the Saints' loss has the 49ers in much better position.

A 49ers loss Sunday would have significant ramifications, as there are multiple 5-6 teams excluding New Orleans (the Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers) that could move ahead of the 49ers with victories.

The division rival Los Angeles Rams occupy the fifth seed going into Sunday's slate with a 7-3 record. However, if they were to lose to the Green Bay Packers on Sunday and the 49ers can get a win, San Francisco would be just one game back of LA with the head-to-head tiebreaker in hand. The 49ers cruised to a 31-10 win over the Rams in Week 10, and the two teams will face off again in Week 18 from SoFi Stadium.

The 49ers are the betting favorite over Minnesota going into Sunday's action and will hope to invoke some of the same magic that helped the Niners roll the Vikings in the 2019 NFC Playoffs during the run to Super Bowl LIV. In that postseason clash, the 49ers sacked Kirk Cousins six times and rushed for 186 yards in a 27-10 victory at Levi's Stadium.

 
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Minnesota features both one of the league's best running backs in Dalvin Cook and an elite receiving duo with Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen.

The 49ers' defensive line should be looking to come after Cousins early and often, as he has faced the fourth-highest pressure rate in the NFL.

Check out the current playoff picture below after Thursday's games.

NFC Standings

No. 1: Arizona Cardinals (9-2)

No. 2: Green Bay Packers (8-3)

No. 3: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-3)

No. 4: Dallas Cowboys (7-4)

No. 5: Los Angeles Rams (7-3)

No. 6: Minnesota Vikings (5-5)

No. 7: San Francisco 49ers (5-5)

No. 8: Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

No. 9: Carolina Panthers (5-6)

No. 10: New Orleans Saints (5-6)

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