49ers battling Giants for NFC playoff bye

49ers battling Giants for NFC playoff bye
November 10, 2011, 1:53 pm
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The 49ers own a five-game lead in the NFC West with eight games to play. So it has been obvious for a while that the 49ers are going to break an eight-season drought and return to the playoffs.The New York Giants might be going there, too. The Giants have a two-game lead in the NFC East over the Dallas Cowboys.
It's only the mid-point of the season, but there will be a lot at stake when the 49ers face the Giants on Sunday at Candlestick Park."Our season does not depend on a win or a loss against these guys," 49ers safety Donte Whitner said. "But we really want to go out and win this football game."RELATED: LIVE NOW -- 49ers safety Donte Whitner on Pro Football Talk
And for good reason. This game could have January implications.Currently, the 49ers stand as the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs behind the unbeaten Green Bay Packers. The Giants are No. 3. The top two seeds earn first-round byes in the playoffs, and then would play a conference semifinal in their home stadium.The 49ers could take a major step toward a playoff bye with a victory over the Giants. After all, it would give San Francisco a two-game lead over the Giants, while also giving the 49ers a tie-breaker edge over the Giants. The New Orleans Saints, who play at Atlanta on Sunday, would be no closer than two-games behind the 49ers, as well.
"There's great significance to this game," 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said. "The biggest thing is it's the next game. That always makes it the most important game."Here is a look at the NFC playoff picture at the mid-point of the season:Division leaders
1. Green Bay (North) 8-0. (NFC record: 6-0)
2. 49ers (West) 7-1. (NFC record: 5-1)
3. N.Y. Giants (East) 6-2. (NFC record: 3-2)
4. New Orleans (South) 6-3. (NFC record: 3-3)Wild card
5. Detroit (North) 6-2. (NFC record: 4-2)
6. Chicago (North) 5-3. (NFC record: 5-3)Next in line
7. Atlanta (South) 5-3. (NFC record: 4-3)
8. Dallas (East) 4-4. (NFC record: 4-2)
9. Tampa Bay (South) 4-4. (NFC record: 3-4)
10. Philadelphia (East) 3-5. (NFC record: 3-4)
11. Washington (East) 3-5. (NFC record: 3-4)
12. Seattle (West) 2-6. (NFC record: 2-3)
13. Minnesota (North) 2-6. (NFC record: 2-4)
14. Arizona Cardinals (West) 2-6. (NFC record: 2-4)
15. Carolina (South) 2-6. (NFC record: 1-6)
16. St. Louis (West) 1-7. (NFC record: 1-6)Tie-breakers
Head-to-head, if applicable.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games, minimum of four.
Strength of victory.
Strength of schedule.