49ers dilemma: Root for or against Seahawks?

49ers dilemma: Root for or against Seahawks?
December 22, 2013, 9:30 am
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The 49ers can win the NFC West and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs if Seattle loses both games to finish the season and the 49ers win their final two games. (USATI)

Programming note: Immediately following the conclusion of Monday night's 49ers-Falcons game, change the channel to CSN Bay Area for 49ers Postgame Live. 

The 49ers could be guaranteed a spot as an NFC wild-card team before the end of Sunday.

But, if that were to happen, the 49ers (10-4) would no longer have any mathematical chance at winning the NFC West and achieving a first-round bye in the playoffs.

If the Seattle Seahawks (12-2) defeat the Arizona Cardinals (9-5) on Sunday, the Seahawks would clinch the NFC West title and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs. But it would also knock the Cardinals from playoff contention and wrap up a postseason bid for the 49ers.

If the Cardinals defeat the Seahawks, the 49ers can still wrap up a spot in the playoffs with a victory Monday night over the Atlanta Falcons.

The 49ers can win the NFC West and earn a first-round bye in the playoffs if Seattle loses both games to finish the season – home games against Arizona and the St. Louis Rams – and the 49ers win both games, including the finale at Arizona.

If the 49ers win their final two games and Seattle wins at least one of its final two games, the 49ers would be the No. 5 seed in the playoffs and would open the postseason on Jan. 4 or 5 at the winner of either the NFC East or NFC North.

The 49ers would miss out on the playoffs only if they lose their final two games and the Cardinals win both games.

Here are the complete NFL playoff scenarios entering Sunday’s games:

NFC 
Seahawks have already clinched playoff spot
49ers: Clinch a playoff spot with win; OR Cardinals loss; OR 49ers tie and Cardinals tie. 
Seahawks: Clinch NFC West division and home-field advantage throughout NFC playoffs with win or tie; OR a 49ers loss or tie. 
Saints: Clinch NFC South division and a first-round bye with a win. Clinches playoff spot with Cardinals loss; OR Saints tie and a 49ers loss or tie; OR Saints tie and Cardinals tie; OR 49ers loss and Cardinals tie. 
Panthers: Clinch a playoff spot with Panthers win; OR Panthers tie and Cardinals loss; OR Panthers tie and 49ers loss; OR Cardinals loss and 49ers loss. 
Eagles: Clinch NFC East division with win and Cowboys loss or tie; OR Eagles tie and Cowboys loss. 
Bears: Clinch NFC North division with win and Lions loss or tie and Packers loss.

AFC 
Broncos, Chiefs and Colts (AFC South winner) have already clinched playoff spots 
Broncos: Clinched playoff spot. Clinch AFC West and first-round bye with win and Chiefs loss. Clinch home-field advantage throughout AFC playoffs with win, Chiefs loss and Patriots loss or tie. 
Patriots: Clinch AFC East with win or tie; OR Dolphins loss or tie. Clinch first-round bye with win, Bengals loss or tie and Colts loss or tie; OR Patriots tie, Bengals loss and Colts loss. Clinch playoff spot with Bengals loss or tie. 
Bengals: Clinch AFC North with win and Ravens loss or tie; OR Bengals tie and Ravens loss. Clinch playoff spot with Bengals win and Dolphins loss or tie; OR Bengals tie and Dolphins loss. 
Ravens: Clinch playoff spot with win, Dolphins loss and Chargers loss or tie. 
Dolphins: Clinch playoff spot with win, Ravens loss, Bengals loss.