The 49ers took care of business, but the Carolina Panthers did not.
San Francisco will have to wait until Week 18 to find out if they’ve clinched a playoff berth, needing a win vs. the Rams in Los Angeles in the final week of the season to guarantee a trip to the postseason. Had the Panthers beat the Saints last Sunday, that would have been enough to render this week’s game meaningless, but Carolina fell 18-10 in the Big Easy.
A loss this week doesn’t necessarily eliminate the 49ers, but it will complicate things. A loss that coincides with a Saints loss will see the 49ers still advance. However, if the Saints win and the 49ers lose, both teams would finish the season at 9-8, with the Saints advancing via tiebreakers.
According to FiveThirtyEight, the 49ers have a 61% chance to make the playoffs.
Assuming the 49ers advance, there are still a number of potential first-round wild-card matchups at play. If the playoffs were to start today, San Francisco would be the No. 6 seed, and travel to Tampa Bay, currently the No. 3 seed. If the 49ers, Cardinals and Bucs all win this week, San Francisco would head to Arizona for the wild-card opener. If the 49ers lose and the Saints lose, it would be a rematch with the Rams.
Here are the NFC Playoff Standings heading into the final week of the season:
x-1. Green Bay Packers (13-3)
Other division leaders
x-2. Los Angeles Rams (12-4)
x-3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (12-4)
x-4. Dallas Cowboys (12-5)
x-5. Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
6. San Francisco 49ers (9-7)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (9-8)
In the hunt
8. New Orleans Saints (8-8)