NFL Playoff Picture

How Cowboys' win over Lions helps 49ers in race for NFC No. 1 seed

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The Dallas Cowboys' 20-19 win over the Detroit Lions on Saturday night at AT&T Stadium significantly impacted the 49ers' path to securing home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

With the Lions' loss on a highly controversial penalty called on a two-point conversion attempt, the 49ers now have an opportunity to clinch the NFC's No. 1 seed as soon as Sunday.

Should San Francisco win its matchup against the Washington Commanders on Sunday at FedExField, a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles to the Arizona Cardinals then would secure the top seed for the 49ers.

The Cowboys improved to 11-5 on the season with their win Saturday, placing them a half-game behind the 49ers in the loss column in the NFC standings. However, their chances of leap-frogging San Francisco for the top seed still remain slim, as the 49ers maintain a tiebreaker because of their resounding 42-10 win over the Cowboys in Week 5.

After losing to Dallas, Detroit moved to 11-5 while losing a crucial tiebreaker to the Cowboys with the head-to-head defeat. Despite the 49ers not playing the Lions this season, San Francisco also holds a tiebreaker advantage over Detroit because of its superior record in NFC games (9-1 versus 7-4).

Should San Francisco beat Washington and Philadelphia win its matchup with Arizona at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, both teams will boast 12-4 records. However, the 49ers also hold the tiebreaker advantage over the Eagles because of their 42-19 win over Philadelphia in Week 13.

This result also would mean that to secure the No. 1 seed, the 49ers must win their Week 18 matchup with the red-hot Los Angeles Rams, who currently sit No. 6 in the NFC playoff picture. Should the 49ers win that pivotal matchup between NFC West rivals, San Francisco will secure a first-round bye regardless of the results of Detroit and Philadelphia's Week 18 games.

Here's what the updated NFC Week 17 playoff scenarios look like after Dallas' win Saturday:

San Francisco 49ers (11-4): NFC West title
Detroit Lions (11-5): NFC North title
Philadelphia Eagles (11-4): Playoff berth
Dallas Cowboys (11-5): Playoff berth

Clinch NFC's No. 1 seed, lone first-round bye and home-field advantage with:
-- Win over Washington Commanders + Eagles loss to Arizona Cardinals

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7)
Clinch playoff berth and NFC South title with:
-- Win over New Orleans Saints OR
-- Tie vs. Saints + Atlanta Falcons loss to Chicago Bears

Seattle Seahawks (8-7)
Clinch playoff berth with:
-- Win over Pittsburgh Steelers + Green Bay Packers-Minnesota Vikings tie

Los Angeles Rams (8-7)
Clinch playoff berth with:
-- Win over New York Giants + Seahawks loss to Steelers OR
-- Win over Giants + Packers-Vikings tie

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