49ers Bolster Super Bowl Chances With NFC’s Top Seed; Seattle Now A Longshot
NFC packed with terrific teams looking to get to the Super Bowl
While the AFC feels like Baltimore and then everybody else, the NFC is packed with a host of very good football teams that are all eyeing a trip to the Super Bowl. Entering Week 17 of the NFL season, very little was decided within the latter conference.
Even after the Philadelphia Eagles clinched the NFC East and the Green Bay Packers and New Orleans Saints both won in the afternoon windows, a Sunday Night Football matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks would determine much of the NFC playoff picture.
What was at stake?
For Seattle, a win would mean the NFC West crown and a home game in the Wild Card round. A loss would mean the No. 5 seed and a trip to Philadelphia in the first round of the playoffs.
For San Francisco, a win would clinch the division title, the No. 1 seed in the NFC, a bye week, and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. A loss would mean the 49ers would be relegated to the No. 5 seed and a road game in the Wild Card round.
In the final seconds of the clash in Seattle, San Francisco was able to keep the Seahawks out of the end zone on a fourth-down completion from Russell Wilson to Jacob Hollister. 49ers linebacker Dre Greenlaw delivered a blow that stopped the Seahawks just inches from the goal line.
With the 26-21 win, San Francisco wrapped up the NFC’s top seed and must now be considered the team to beat in the conference.
Seahawks Now Face Uphill Climb as 49ers Gain Advantage
When the Seahawks lined up for that 4th-and-goal play, much more was on the line than a single game.
Because the loser would fail to win the division, the Seahawks now have to go on the road and win three games in a row to reach the Super Bowl. That devastates their chances of winning the NFC.
Since 2006, the Seahawks are just 2-7 on the road and 8-0 when playing at home in the playoffs.
Outcome Also Vital For The 49ers
The outcome of this NFC West-deciding game is just as vital for the 49ers, who now get a bye week and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.
Since 2011, the 49ers are 3-1 on the road in postseason play, but that vital loss came against the Seahawks in Seattle. This year, San Francisco will play host should the two NFC West rivals meet once more.
And rather than having to take on the Saints in the fortress of New Orleans or the Packers in a frozen Lambeau Field, the 49ers now get to stay at home for the most meaningful games of the year.
San Francisco Is NFC Favorite
With a dominant defense, a proficient running game, and perhaps the best player in all of football – tight end George Kittle – San Francisco is the team that nobody wants to play in the NFC.
And now that San Francisco will be at home for every game it plays in the playoffs before a potential trip to the Super Bowl, the 49ers should be considered the clear favorite.
San Francisco has already beaten three NFC playoff teams in the regular season, including a blowout over Green Bay and a 48-46 victory in New Orleans.
That’s why the 49ers should be heavy favorites to win the NFC.
Odds Still Show Tight Race
However, the odds still show a tight, three-team race for a chance to reach the Super Bowl. While San Francisco leads the pack with odds of +135 to win the NFC, both the Saints (+250) and Packers (+320) are right behind them.
As the No. 5 seed, Seattle now owns the fourth-best odds in the conference but remains a longshot at +1300.
The odds show a tightly contested conference, but the 49ers have done everything to prove they’re the team to beat.