Some good news: The San Francisco 49ers now control their own playoff destiny.
Thanks to the New Orleans Saints’ loss on Monday night, if the 49ers win their next two games — vs. Houston and at the LA Rams respectively — they will clinch just the second playoff berth of the Kyle Shanahan era.
That’s the most direct path, but there is also a scenario where they could punch their ticket this Sunday. If San Francisco beats Houston, and the Saints lose to the Carolina Panthers in Week 17, the 49ers will clinch one of the three wild card spots.
As it stands, the 49ers (8-7) find themselves with the No. 6 seed, edging the Philadelphia Eagles (8-7) who are in the final playoff spot thanks to a head-to-head victory earlier this season. The Eagles can also clinch a playoff spot by winning out.
Fighting with the Saints to get in are the Vikings and Falcons, all of which have 7-8 records. Washington remains the biggest long shot at 6-9, but is still mathematically alive.
The 49ers are heavy favorites this week vs. the Texans (-12.5) even with Trey Lance likely to get the start. Most books don’t have the Saints-Panthers line listed yet since the New Orleans QB situation remains up in the air. It is likely that the Saints will be favored to win the if either Taysom Hill or Trevor Siemian can go.
Here are the full NFC Playoff Standings as we head into Week 17:
1. Green Bay Packers (12-3)
Other division leaders
2. Dallas Cowboys (11-4)
3. Los Angeles Rams (11-4)
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-4)
5. Arizona Cardinals (10-5)
6. 49ers (8-7)
7. Philadelphia Eagles (8-7)
In the hunt
8. Minnesota Vikings (7-8)
9. Atlanta Falcons (7-8)
10. New Orleans Saints (7-8)
11. Washington Football Team (6-9)