(KPIX)- With their last second win over the rival Rams this past weekend, the 49ers kept their playoff hopes alive. Despite all of the injuries and challenges this year has brought, the team remains just one game back of the final playoff spot in the NFC. However, there are some obstacles to overcome if they are to get back to the postseason.
FiveThirtyEight’s projection model gives them a 28 percent chance while ESPN’s FPI currently lists their chances at 30.6 percent. They currently lose out on the tiebreaker to both Minnesota and Chicago due to a worse in-conference record (3-5) than either of those two teams. Combined with their loss to the Cardinals in Week 1, it means that they have some serious work to do in the final five weeks in order to overcome the current tiebreaker status and give themselves a shot at the final playoff spot.READ MORE: Light Showers Forecast For North Bay With Chance of Sprinkles Further South
First, the schedule. The 49ers five remaining games are “home” vs. Buffalo (8-3), “home” vs. Washington (4-7), @ Dallas (3-8), @ Arizona (6-5) and home vs. Seattle (8-3). The next two home games, as announced this week, are actually being played in Arizona due to Santa Clara County’s new COVID restrictions put in place this week. Not that there has been much in the way of home field advantage this year as is, but a strange year is now stranger for the Niners.
Of those five games, FiveThirtyEight’s win probability has the 49ers favored in two of them: Washington and Dallas. The other three they’re expected to be underdogs though only slightly with win probabilities of 46 percent against the Bills, 48 percent against the Cardinals and 45 percent against the Seahawks. Could they win all five games? Sure, though nothing this team has shown thus far would indicate a five-game win streak is likely.
That said, they are expected to get some help in the coming weeks. Center Ben Garland and linebacker Mark Nzeocha could return this week while QB Jimmy Garoppolo, defensive back Jonathan Cyprien, running back JaMychal Hasty, and tight end George Kittle could all be activated off injured reserve in the coming weeks.READ MORE: UPDATE: CHP Deactivates Amber Alert After Children Found Safe in Modesto; Missing Woman Still Sought
So, what do the 49ers need to do in order to make the playoffs and how much help do they need to get? Well, thanks to the ESPN Playoff Machine, we can game this out. If the Niners win just the four NFC games (Washington, Dallas, Arizona, Seattle), they would need the Vikings to lose at least one of their upcoming games and Chicago to lose two. If the Niners win three NFC games and the Bills game, they would need the Vikings and Bears to each lose two of their upcoming five games.
That all assumes the Niners beat the Cardinals and the Cardinals finish 8-8. If the Cardinals, who have the Rams twice, Giants, Eagles and Niners, win three of those games, the only scenario in which San Fran topples them is if they also win three including the head-to-head matchup in Week 16.
To sum up, the Niners need to win at least four of their upcoming games while also needing the Vikings and Bears to lose three and the Cardinals to either lose three times or lose the head-to-head battle in Week 16 as one of two losses suffered the rest of the year. Or, they would need the Rams to lose three of their final five games to fall to 9-7.MORE NEWS: Santa Rosa Police Investigate Stabbing of 2 Teen Girls at Recent Sideshow
It’s not impossible, but there’s plenty of work to do for Shanahan’s crew down the stretch. It starts on Monday with a matchup against the Buffalo Bills set for a 5:15 p.m. PST kickoff.