How San Francisco 49ers Fit into the NFL Playoff Picture After Week 12

Joseph Akeley@@Jakeley_BRAnalyst INovember 26, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - NOVEMBER 25:  Colin Kaepernick #7 of the San Francisco 49ers speaks with head coach Jim Harbaugh during a game against the New Orleans Saints at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on November 25, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)
Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Week 12 was very kind to the San Francisco 49ers.

First and foremost, the Red and Gold returned two Drew Brees interceptions for touchdowns en route to a 31-21 win over the New Orleans Saints

The Seattle Seahawks (6-5) also lost, which gives the 49ers (8-2-1) a two-and-a-half-game lead over their closest division rival.

The 49ers continue to control their own destiny for a first-round bye in the NFC playoffs.

Let's take a closer look at where San Francisco stands in the playoff picture.

San Francisco remaining schedule: @ Stl, vs. Mia, @ NE, @ Sea, vs. Arz

In an earlier post, I predicted that the 49ers would lose back-to-back road games to the Patriots and Seahawks. 

However, as long as the suspensions of Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner hold (via CBS Sports), I'd pick San Francisco to beat Seattle at CenturyLink Field. And even if Sherman and Browner win their appeals, the 49ers look more formidable since the last time the two teams met in Week 7. 

The Rams gave the 49ers fits two weeks ago, a game that finished in a tie, but I think the San Francisco defense will be ready for St. Louis' power-running game this time around, and Colin Kaepernick should pose more problems for the Rams now that he's more comfortable under center.

I still have to give a slight edge to New England for the Week 15 matchup. Nothing against the 49ers, but the Patriots have scored 219 points during their current five-game winning streak.

So, I believe San Francisco will finish 4-1 in its last five games, which would give them a 12-3-1 record. 

Unless the Bears won out, that record would be good enough to net the 49ers at least the No. 2 seed. 

Predicting NFC playoff picture

Seed Team Current Record Projected Record
No. 1  Atlanta Falcons 10-1 13-3
No. 2 San Francisco 49ers 8-2-1 12-3-1
No. 3 Chicago Bears 8-3 12-4
No. 4 New York Giants 7-4 10-6
No. 5 Green Bay Packers 7-4 11-5
No. 6 Washington Redskins 5-6 9-7

I think 49ers fans would be happy with this scenario.

If the Bears defeated the No. 6 seed—I settled with Washington after changing my mind five times—then Chicago and San Francisco would play a rematch of the 49ers' 32-7 victory in Week 11.

Plus, the Giants and Packers would play each other in the Wild Card Round, which means arguably one of the two biggest landmines to San Francisco's Super Bowl run would be eliminated before the 49ers even played a playoff game.

Regardless of how the playoff picture shapes up, the 49ers shouldn't be afraid of anybody. They have the league's best scoring defense and rushing attack. That formula can work against anyone.

The one team in this playoff picture that beat San Francisco this year was the Giants, but that was before Colin Kaepernick was starting. If Kaepernick is even starting in the playoffs remains to be seen—it seems unlikely that he'd lose his job, but with Harbaugh calling the shots, who knows?—but assuming he does start against the Giants, would he be able to solve New York's pass rush and lead the 49ers to victory?

Perhaps, but now I'm just getting ahead of myself.

I can say that after dominating performances in Week 12, it seems like the 49ers and Giants are the two best teams in the NFC.

And that means an NFC Championship Game rematch could be in the cards.

Only time will tell if the 49ers will reverse their fortunes from last year and end up "Super."


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