The NFC playoffs will be decided by either the New Orleans Saints or San Francisco 49ers.
Only one playoff spot remains, so the San Francisco 49ers (and the New Orleans Saints) have everything they can play for Sunday afternoon.
They will not be facing off head-to-head as the Las Vegas Raiders or the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday night. However, the former NFC West foes will be taking on their greatest historical rivals with a chance to win a playoff spot. San Francisco will be facing the Los Angeles Rams in SoFi, while New Orleans will battle it out at Mercedes-Benz Stadium with the Atlanta Falcons.
The Saints and the 49ers will be the final teams to secure a playoff spot in the NFC.
Which team is in the NFC playoffs, San Francisco 49ers vs. New Orleans Saints
The 49ers (9-7) must win the Rams in Inglewood to reach the playoffs or watch the Saints fall at the Falcons in Atlanta. To make the playoffs (8-8), the Saints must beat the Falcons at home and see the 49ers lose on the road to Los Angeles. Because of their better conference record (7-5), the Saints would be in if both teams ended the year at 9-8.
It comes down to the most likely scenario. San Francisco has more chances of getting in but is the underdog on the road against Los Angeles. New Orleans must beat Atlanta. The Saints are slight road favorites. The Saints lost to Atlanta earlier in the season when they beat San Francisco in Santa Clara.
The Rams have a lot more at stake than the opposition when it comes to what they are playing for. The Rams will win against the 49ers to claim the NFC West crown as well as a home playoff match. Atlanta will only be seeking a sweep of its archrival, the 49ers. The Dirty Birds have been eliminated from playoff contention in Buffalo. Another thing to remember: The Rams have been owned by the 49ers.
The 49ers beat the Rams five times in succession, despite San Francisco losing the season series to the Arizona Cardinals (also the Seattle Seahawks). Kyle Shanahan absolutely has Sean McVay’s number, going 6-3 head-to-head and having won the last five rivalry games. Arthur Smith has never lost to Sean Payton in a match, even though he’s played the Saints once.
The 49ers are likely to lose more games than the Saints. Trusting the Falcons to win a game at home is never in one’s favor. There is a good chance that the Rams will play close in a big game against San Francisco, which is trying to make it into the playoffs. The past performance is indicative for the future. It is the reason why the 49ers beat the Rams, regardless what the Saints do here in Atlanta.
The 49ers have control over their destiny and will be playing a team that it has dominated for the past three seasons.