49ers get lots of help as Cardinals, Bears and Seahawks lose


The 49ers still have to play a crucial game against the Buffalo Bills on "Monday Night Football," but they've had a good Week 13 so far. Several of the games played Sunday had outcomes that worked in San Francisco's favor.

On Sunday morning, NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco laid out a three-step guide for what 49ers fans should be rooting for, in terms of improving San Francisco's odds of making the playoffs. All three boxes were nearly checked off, but the 49ers will take 2-for-3.

The Detroit Lions did the 49ers a favor by beating the Chicago Bears, 34-30. As a result, San Francisco temporarily leapfrogged the Bears (5-7) in the chase for one of the NFC Wild Card spots.

The 49ers would have leapfrogged another team had the Jacksonville Jaguars been able to beat the Vikings, but Minnesota ultimately won 27-24 in overtime. Consequently, the Vikings (6-6) still sit a half-game ahead of San Francisco.

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They didn't gain ground on Minnesota, but the 49ers did inch closer to the Arizona Cardinals as a result of their 38-28 loss to the Los Angeles Rams. The Cardinals (6-6) now have as many losses as San Francisco, with their Week 16 matchup still to come. The 49ers would pull even with Arizona in the standings with a win over the Bills on Monday night, though the Cardinals would remain ahead of San Francisco due to tiebreakers.


There was one other result that the 49ers surely are pleased about. In perhaps the biggest upset of the week, the New York Giants went into Seattle and beat the Seahawks, 17-12. With the loss, the Seahawks dropped to 8-4 and relented the division lead to the Rams. They're still two games ahead of the 49ers in the loss column (pending Monday night), but the two sides will face each other in the final week of the season, so it's not out of the question that San Francisco could catch up.

In fact, the Seahawks' loss ultimately could give the 49ers a tiebreaker over their longtime rivals. After head-to-head and record within the division, the third playoff tiebreaker is record against common opponents, and remember, San Francisco beat the Giants, 36-9, back in Week 3.

It's also worth noting that the 49ers already completed the season sweep of the Rams, so they would hold the tiebreaker over Los Angeles in the event the two sides finished the season with the same record.

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Here's where the 49ers sit in the NFC playoff picture heading into Monday's huge game against the Bills:

  1. New Orleans Saints (10-2) -- clinched playoff berth
  2. Green Bay Packers (9-3)
  3. L.A. Rams (8-4)
  4. NY Giants (5-7)
  5. Seattle Seahawks (8-4)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-5)
  7. Minnesota Vikings (6-6)
  8. Arizona Cardinals (6-6)
  9. 49ers (5-6)
  10. Chicago Bears (5-7)
  11. Detroit Lions (5-7)