If you’ve listened to talk radio at all this week, then you’ve heard the chicken-littling of certain 49ers’ fans. Perhaps the 49ers’ collapse, as it is seen by some, is what was foreshadowed by the end of the Mayan calendar. I don’t know, really. I refused to watch the movie “2012″ on principle. From an objective stand point, such doomsday posturing by these’ fans seems silly. The team has clinched a playoff berth, after all. And, at least we can debate the merits of starting Colin Kaepernick over Alex Smith and not those of Terrelle Pryor over Matt Leinhart.
That’s a nuanced difference, to be sure. But it is also one that speaks volumes about the prowess of Jim Harbaugh and his staff. If we’re to believe Raiders’ offensive coordinator Greg Knapp, then installing the West Coast offense can take years–decades, maybe. Harbaugh was able to do it successfully in less than a season with offensive weapons that included Joe Hastings and Brett Swain. That’s nothing to be sneezed at. By Knapp’s measure, Harbaugh did the impossible. If he was able to defy history’s loom and spin Alex Smith to gold, why couldn’t he do the same with Kaepernick?
He can and he is. Barring some strange loss to the woeful Arizona Cardinals, the 49ers are primed to enter the playoffs with some amount of home-field advantage. Even if they lose to the Cardinals and thus home-field advantage, they’ve already beaten the high powered offenses of the New Orleans Saints and New England Patriots on the road. And so, the sky is not falling over 4949 Centennial Blvd. Not by any means.
As it currently stands, the Atlanta Falcons and Green Bay Packers have the number one and two seeds, respectively. The 49ers and the Washington Redskins hold home-field advantage in the wild-card round of the playoffs because each leads its own division. The Seattle Seahawks and the Minnesota Vikings hold wild-card spots, but only the Seahawks have clinched a playoff berth.
No. 1 seed: First round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs
The Atlanta Falcons (13-2) have already secured this spot.
No. 2 seed: First round bye and home-field advantage in the divisional round
If the 49ers win and the Packers lose, the 49ers will win the second seed, regardless of how the other week 17 games finish.
No. 3 seed: No bye but home-field advantage in the wild-card round against the sixth seed.
If the 49ers and Packers win, this will be the scenario. Whether Seattle wins or not, a Minnesota loss to Green Bay means the Seahawks have secured the fifth seed. The 49ers would then face:
–the Minnesota Vikings if the Chicago Bears and New York Giants lose.
–the Chicago Bears if they win.
–the New York Giants if they win and the Chicago Bears lose
If the 49ers, Green Bay Packers, and Seahawks all lose, then the 49ers keep the third seed and the Seahawks lose the fifth seed to the Vikings, who’ll have a better divisional record. The Seahawks and the 49ers would then play each other in San Francisco.
No. 4 seed: No bye but home-field advantage in the wild-card round against the fifth seed
This can’t happen. It’s either third seed or bust.
No. 5 seed: No bye and no home-field advantage in the wild-card round against the fourth seed
If the 49ers lose and the Seahawks win, this would be scenario. The Seahawks would secure the NFC West–and possibly the second seed if the Packers also lost. The 49ers would drop to the fifth seed, which means they’ll travel to the winner of the Washington-Dallas game.
No. 6 seed: No bye and no home-field advantage in the wild-card around against the third seed.
This can’t happen. The worst the 49ers can do is the fifth seed.
Here’s out we predict this weekend will play out
Because the Guy is in Brazil, I thought it’d be appropriate if I flipped a Brazilian coin for his picks. After all, a coin flip would probably be more accurate than he’s been. I don’t have a centavo or a real, but that is no deterrent. Thanks to Random.org, I was able to virtually flip a $1 real–or at least, I was able to pretend like I was. If the coin landed on heads, then I chose the “Away” team. If it landed on tails, I chose the “Home” team. Pretty simple.
Oakland Raiders at San Diego Chargers (-7.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Tails. Pick: Chargers
East Bay Sports Guy: No real reason for making this pick. I’m not sure that the Raiders do anything to win the game, but this just seems like the type of game that the Norv Turner doesn’t prepare his team for. Pick: Raiders
Bay Area Stats Guy: In a game without playoff implications and very little for your team to play for, it is hard to choose sides. Luckily for me this season, I’ve been using a model to pick games (rather unsuccessfully), and it says to take the Chargers by as many as 10 points. So I guess I will be rooting for the Chargers this weekend. Pick: Chargers
Ruthless Sports Guy: No analysis necessary here – this painful season will be over for the Raiders on Sunday, and unfortunately it will come with one more loss. That’s okay though, because only the most diehard Raider fans (and Charger fans, I suppose) would watch at this point. Pick: Chargers
Bay Area Duck Guy: The Raiders are simply a bad team on defense, but the Chargers aren’t much better (29th in yards). This game will be ugly, but Philip Rivers will throw enough touchdowns for San Diego to come out on top, especially if the Raiders can’t score any points, which has been a trend this season. Pick: Chargers
Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers (-17.5)
Bay Area Sports Guy: Heads. Pick: Cardinals
East Bay Sports Guy: The combination of the 49ers embarrassing loss to the Seahawks and the fact that this will be Brian Hoyers’ first start of his career suggests that this will be a blow out. I think the 49ers will come ready to play and to prove that the sky is not falling over 4949 Centennial Blvd. Pick: 49ers
Bay Area Stats Guy: My model says that the 49ers should win by 15 points, but with the way that the 49ers were humiliated by the Seahawks, I wouldn’t be surprised if they totally dismantled the lowly Cardinals. Then again maybe the Seahawks exposed some of the 49ers’ weaknesses. I guess we will see. Pick: Cardinals
Ruthless Sports Guy: This is a gargantuan line, but given the way the 49ers got slapped around last week and how bad the Cardinals are, San Francisco should cover the 17.5 easily. This looks like another one of those home shutouts, or at least a game where the 49ers don’t allow their opponent a touchdown. Bonus pick – Aldon Smith ties the sack record with three sacks on Sunday, but doesn’t break it. /Sad face. Pick: 49ers
Bay Area Duck Guy: Yes, the 49ers got demolished last weekend despite all of us saying they would win a tough game on Sunday night. San Francisco still has a shot at the second seed in the NFC, but the Vikings have to beat the Packers and the 49ers have to take care of business at home against Arizona for that to happen. They will, it just won’t be by more than seventeen and a half points. Arizona has a strong defense, and if we learned anything last week it’s that the San Francisco offense is not as explosive as everyone hoped with Kaepernick under center. It still has potential to be as explosive, but it won’t happen against the Cardinal defense. 49ers win a closer game to keep their hopes of a first-round bye alive, but they won’t beat this spread with two of the league’s best defense grinding it out. Pick: Cardinals
GAME OF THE WEEK:
Green Bay Packers (-3) at Minnesota Vikings
Bay Area Sports Guy: Tails. Pick: Vikings
East Bay Sports Guy: The Vikings will be fighting for a playoff spot and Adrian Peterson will be fighting for the all-time rushing record. I know the Packers have one of the best run defenses in the league, but what AP has done this season is unbelievable. So why can’t the Vikings win this game at home? Pick: Vikings
Bay Area Stats Guy: This has the makings of a very good game, or at least I hope it does. According to my model, this should be a pretty close game with the Packers favored by just 2 points. With the line on the game at 3.5 points, I will take the points and hope for the best. Pick: Vikings
Ruthless Sports Guy: I want to say that the Vikings pull this one out here – I really do. I’ve just watched Aaron Rodgers get into a zone these last couple weeks (and carry me to a fantasy championship, NBD). Adrian Peterson will put up a fight in an attempt to attain the single-season rushing record, but the Vikings will lose this game by a touchdown. Pick: Packers
Bay Area Duck Guy: The last time these teams met, the Packers enjoyed home field advantage and won a hard-fought game 23-14. This time, the Vikings have the home field advantage and they must win to secure their spot in the playoffs. The Packers are playing for the number two seed, so it’s not like this is a rest game for Green Bay, but Minnesota and its fans have much more on the line. Adrian Peterson should be the MVP this season, and he’s chasing 2,000 rushing yards in this one. I’m betting he puts together a solid game despite Green Bay’s best defensive effort; Minnesota is third in the NFL in rushing offense, averaging over 160 yards per game. The stadium will be rocking and if the Vikings can keep it close, they’ll win at home against their rival for the first time in the 2000s. Pick: Vikings
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