The 49ers' slim hopes of hosting a game in the playoffs grew a bit more robust today when the unthinkable happened: The Seahawks lost at home.
Seattle's 17-10 loss to the Cardinals means the 49ers still have a shot at winning the NFC West, which would at least earn them a bye in the opening round of the playoffs and a home game in the divisional round.For that to happen, they would have to win Monday against the Falcons and in next week's finale in Arizona, and hope the Seahawks lose their finale at home to the Rams.
If the Seahawks had won today, they would have taken the NFC West title and wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Seattle hadn't lost at home since the 49ers beat them on Dec. 24, 2011. A Seahawks win also would have clinched a playoff spot for their arch rivals. In fact, if the 49ers lose the last two games they could miss the playoffs entirely.
And yet it's also still possible the 49ers could end up with the best record in the NFC, which would give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. For that to happen, they'd have to win the next two games and the Seahawks and Panthers would have to lose their finales.
At minimum, a 49ers' win Monday would guarantee them a playoff berth for the third straight season. It also would mean they would jump from the No. 6 seed to the No. 5 seed. If they hung onto that position, they likely would visit either the winner of the NFC East or the NFC North in the opening round.
-- Matt Barrows