Dec 17, 2023; Glendale, Arizona, USA; San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle (85) celebrates after the game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

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Week 16 playoff scenarios: 49ers can clinch top seed, bye

The San Francisco 49ers’ Christmas gift could be the No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The 49ers, the only 11-3 team in the NFC, have a straightforward path to clinching the top seed and a first-round bye in Week 16, according to the NFL’s official playoff scenarios.

If the Detroit Lions, Dallas Cowboys and Philadelphia Eagles all lose, the 49ers would lock up the No. 1 seed on Christmas night by beating the visiting Baltimore Ravens — who happen to be the only other 11-3 team in the league.

Detroit visits the Minnesota Vikings and Dallas takes on the host Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Christmas Eve. Then, the Eagles play the middle game of a Christmas Day tripleheader against the visiting New York Giants before the Ravens visit San Francisco in the nightcap.

The Lions (10-4) would clinch the NFC North title with a win or tie against Minnesota. If that doesn’t happen, they can still lock up a playoff bid if either the Los Angeles Rams or the Seattle Seahawks lose or tie. The Rams host the New Orleans Saints on Thursday and the Seahawks visit the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.

Over in the AFC, the Ravens — who have already punched their postseason ticket — can win the AFC North by beating the 49ers and having the Browns lose or tie against the Houston Texans, or if the Ravens tie and the Browns lose.

The Browns (9-5), for their part, have eight scenarios to clinch a playoff berth this week, all of which start with a win at Houston. The Browns are on the verge of their second playoff berth in 21 seasons.

If the Dolphins (10-4) beat the Cowboys and the Buffalo Bills lose or tie at the Los Angeles Chargers on Saturday, Miami would clinch the AFC East title. That would also be the result if Miami ties Dallas and Buffalo loses.

The Christmas Day tripleheader begins with the struggling Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Las Vegas Raiders. The Chiefs (9-5) can lock up their eighth straight AFC West title if they beat Las Vegas, or if they tie with the Raiders and the Denver Broncos lose to New England.

–Field Level Media

Field Level Media
Sport Writer & Editor
FLM has a North American focus while tying into regional and hyper-local resources – providing the ability to distribute compelling content through the writing of professional journalists. As the U.S. sports content provider to dozens of digital and print media publishers through strategic partnerships with the likes of Reuters and Nielsen Sports, FLM covers the nuts and bolts with a breaking news desk and game event coverage.


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