The 9-2 San Francisco 49ers have five games left. Four are against NFC West opponents whose combined record is 10-23. It is a schedule that in the early part of the year seemed daunting in that many expected the 49ers to be middling contenders for the division crown. Now it seems like the proverbial soft landing.
As of early December, it seems rather obvious that the Packers and the Niners are going to get the top two seeds in the NFC. That gets them a week off. To round out the division winners, I see New Orleans getting 11 wins, Dallas 10.
That leaves two wild cards, and right now I’d say Detroit and Atlanta have the inside track. I could see the Lions getting 11 wins, the Falcons 10. How that leads to first-round playoff games has yet to be worked out due to tiebreakers and other factors.
As for other contenders, the schedule kills the Giants’ hopes. They have to play the Cowboys twice and the Saints on Nov. 28. They’re just not going to have enough gas to get to the division crown. The Eagles are done and get to claim the honor of being the Most Disappointing Team of 2011.
The Bears’ loss at Oakland on Nov. 27 really set them back and the injury to Jay Cutler may prove to be their undoing. Of course, they do get another shot at the Packers, but with Cutler they looked so much stronger.
With that prognostication of NFL positioning, here’s an almost alphabetical rundown of the playoff scenarios for the 49ers.