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

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How Cowboys’ win over Lions helps 49ers in race for NFC No. 1 seed originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

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 in the NFC playoffs.

With the Lions’ loss on Saturday, the 49ers now have an opportunity to clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC as soon as Sunday.

Should San Francisco win their matchup against the Washington Commanders on Sunday at FedEx Field, a loss by the Philadelphia Eagles would secure the top seed for the 49ers.

With the win over the Lions, the Cowboys improved to 11-5 on the season, 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 tie-breaker over the Cowboys because of their resounding 42-10 win over Dallas in Week 5.

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

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

This result would also 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 at the sixth seed 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 fixtures.

Here’s what the updated NFC playoff picture looks like following Dallas’ win on Saturday night:

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

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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