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NFC playoff picture: The 49ers get back on top

The 49ers and Saints played one of the more exciting offensive matchups of the season, but should either team be concerned with how many points they gave up on defense?

There was no change to the six teams in playoff position in the NFC during Week 14, but there was a change to the way they stack up.

The 49ers are back in the top seed by virtue of beating the Saints while the Seahawks stumbled to a loss in Los Angeles. The Packers beat Washington, which bumped them past the Saints into the No. 2 spot as well.

Week 15 brings two games between NFC teams still in the playoff hunt. One sees the Rams visit Dallas to face the Cowboys in a game that both teams could really use with the regular season close to the end. The other has the Bears trying to muddle up the NFC North race against the Packers.

Here’s a look at the overall playoff picture in the NFC:

1. 49ers (11-2) They went 2-1 over a tough patch of the schedule and can clinch a playoff berth in Week 15, but the division may hang in the balance through Week 17’s game against the Seahawks.

2. Packers (10-3) Their win over Washington wasn’t pretty, but style points won’t help them get a first-round bye.

3. Saints (10-3) With the NFC South wrapped up, seeding is their top priority and the wild loss to the 49ers was a hit on that front.

4. Cowboys (6-7) They keep losing, but remain on top of the NFC East for at least one more week.

5. Seahawks (10-3) Winning out would get them the NFC West title and the quest starts in Carolina this Sunday.

6. Vikings (9-4) Their odds of moving up from the No. 6 slot aren’t great, so the Vikings can concentrate on nailing that down.

7. Rams (8-5) They’ve looked a lot better the last two weeks, but did the switch flip too late?

8. Bears (7-6) If the Bears don’t beat the Packers, there won’t be any more playoff hope in Chicago.

9. Eagles (6-7) The Eagles showed resilience against the Giants on Monday night and will try to patch together a roster to keep it rolling against Washington.

10. Buccaneers (6-7) Sunday’s win was their third in a row, so the Bucs are at least going down swinging.

11. Panthers (5-8) Firing Ron Rivera didn’t halt their losing streak.

12. Falcons (4-9) They’ll have plenty of NFC teams rooting for them in Santa Clara this weekend.

13. Lions (3-9-1) Matt Patricia says the Lions are better than their record, which is likely to be an unpopular opinion.

14. Cardinals (3-9-1) A six-game losing streak has soured most of the early good feelings about the Cardinals.

15. Washington (3-10) Ten losses is too many to win even the 2019 NFC East.

16. Giants (2-11) Eli Manning’s return sparked the Giants for 30 minutes, but they lost for the ninth straight time all the same.