Which teams 49ers should root for in pivotal Week 16 games originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
The 49ers already completed their Week 16 game, but they’ll be rooting for a handful of teams to stumble on a pivotal NFL Sunday chock full of matchups with playoff implications.
After Thursday night’s loss to the Tennessee Titans, the 49ers (8-7) remain sixth in the NFC standings, clinging to one of the three wild-card spots available in the postseason. There are five teams nipping at the 49ers’ heels that Kyle Shanahan and Co. will be rooting against on Sunday.
Just behind the 49ers is the Minnesota Vikings, who will be taking on the Los Angeles Rams at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Rams are the road favorite with Vikings star Dalvin Cook on the reserve/COVID-19 list, but this Vikings team has been as unpredictable as any in the NFL this season.
This particular game might have some fans conflicted, as there is an argument to be made for both teams helping the 49ers with a win. If LA indeed gets the victory in Minneapolis, the Vikings will fall to 7-8 with two games to play, putting them a full game behind the 49ers with two to play.
However, the 49ers already have the head-to-head tiebreaker over Minnesota because of their Week 12 matchup at Levi’s Stadium. On the other hand, if Minnesota defends their home turf and takes down LA, the Rams would fall to 10-5.
A loss there would leave the door open — ever so slightly — that both the 49ers and Rams finish the season 10-7. The Rams play the Baltimore Ravens in Week 17 while the 49ers face the lowly Houston Texans, and the division rivals will finish out the season with a Week 18 clash at SoFi Stadium.
If the 49ers beat Houston, LA loses to Baltimore and then the Niners close out the season with a win over the Rams, both teams would be 10-7 and the 49ers would have the head-to-head tiebreaker by having two wins over Sean McVay’s squad.
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Elsewhere, the Philadelphia Eagles, New Orleans Saints, Washington Football Team and Atlanta Falcons all are just outside the seven-team playoff picture and take the field Sunday.
The Eagles (7-7) will be facing the banged-up New York Giants, with Jake Fromm reportedly making his first NFL start at Lincoln Financial Field. The odds are stacked against them, but the 49ers will be rooting for an upset from Big Blue in Philly.
The Saints (7-7) will be hosting the Miami Dolphins on Monday night, with rookie quarterback Ian Book expected to be under center for New Orleans at home. Miami is a slight favorite, and the 49ers will be part of the Tua Tagovailoa hive on Sunday hoping for a Dolphins victory.
Washington (6-8) will be traveling to Big D for a matchup with the Dallas Cowboys. Jerry Jones’ squad already has clinched a playoff spot berth with the 49ers’ loss, and can clinch the division with a win Sunday. It might leave a bad taste in your mouth, but a Cowboys win would benefit the 49ers in keeping Washington from a late push.
Atlanta (6-8) has the kneecap-biting Detroit Lions on the docket in Week 16 at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Dan Campbell’s team has not quit all season, and the 49ers will be backing Bay Area native Jared Goff and the Lions to put Atlanta’s playoff dreams to bed with a win.
So there you have it, 49ers fans. Christmas might have been Saturday, but San Francisco’s playoff hopes could get a number of presents depending on how these NFC matchups shake out Sunday.
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