Chris O'Meara / AP

San Francisco 49ers' Kendall Hunter (32) dives into the end zone to score after picking up a fumble by Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Russell Shepard during the fourth quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Dec. 15, 2013, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/ Chris O'Meara)

Seahawks’ loss brightens outlook for 49ers

Published: Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013 - 10:28 pm
Last Modified: Tuesday, Dec. 24, 2013 - 8:52 am

The 49ers’ slim hopes of hosting a game in the playoffs grew a bit more robust Sunday when the unthinkable happened: The Seahawks lost at home.

Seattle’s 17-10 loss to the Arizona Cardinals means the 49ers still have a shot at winning the NFC West, which would at least earn them a bye in the opening round of the playoffs and a home game in the divisional round.

For that to happen, they would have to win today against the Falcons and in next week’s finale at Arizona, and hope the Seahawks lose their finale to the St. Louis Rams.

If the Seahawks had won Sunday, they would have taken the NFC West title and wrapped up home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Seattle hadn’t lost at home since the 49ers beat them on Dec. 24, 2011.

It’s also possible the 49ers could end up with the best record in the NFC, which would give them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. For that to happen, they’d have to win the next two games and the Seahawks and Panthers would have to lose their finales.

At minimum, a 49ers win today would guarantee them a playoff berth for the third straight season. It also would mean they would jump from the No. 6 seed to the No. 5 seed.

If they hung on to that position, they likely would visit either the winner of the NFC East or the NFC North in the opening round.

Read more articles by Matthew Barrows

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