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49ers go marching in and upset Saints to take over first place in NFC West

San Francisco 49ers v New Orleans Saints Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

While fans of the Seattle Seahawks have to wait until Sunday Night Football to watch their team take on the Los Angeles Rams, there was plenty of intrigue for Hawks fans during the early slot. Seattle opened Sunday morning with a 10-2 record identical to that of the San Francisco 49ers, however, thanks to the 27-24 overtime victory over the Niners in Week 10, the Hawks came into Week 14 in first place in the NFC West.

In addition, the Seahawks came into Sunday as the number two seed in the NFC, with their 10-2 record also identical to that of the New Orleans Saints. Unfortunately for Seattle, due to the Saints 33-27 victory over the Hawks in Week 3, the Saints hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks, and as such held the number one seed in the conference, along with home field advantage through the playoffs.

The fact that these three teams came into the weekend logjammed at 10-2 is part of what makes the Saints-Niners showdown such a huge matchup. For the 49ers, the game was a chance to show they can hang with the big boys after lowing two of their last four to Seattle and Baltimore. For the Saints, it was a chance to keep hold of the top spot in the NFC, while also gaining the tiebreaker on the two closest competitors.

Both quarterbacks, Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Brees, came out of the gate slinging it, combining for 336 yards and 5 touchdowns in the first 19:28 of the game and 55 combined points scored in the first half. However, both defenses settled down early in the second half, before the game ended in a fashion akin to an arena league barnburner. In the end it was the Niners who prevailed 48-46.

The San Francisco win moves them, as least for the moment, into first place in the NFC West pending the outcome of the Seattle-Los Angeles game this evening. With the Niners taking over the top spot in the NFC West, that bumps the Seahawks back to the fifth seed and moves New Orleans down to the second seed in the NFC playoff picture. All of that, of course, could change this evening if the Seahawks win, which would move Seattle not only back into first in the NFC West, it would put the team at the number one overall seed in the conference. If that proves to be the case, the 49ers would return to the fifth seed, exactly where they opened the day.

Elsewhere in the conference, the NFC East remains a raging tire fire where the 6-7 Dallas Cowboys are in first place. In the NFC North, the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers both won, meaning that the game Sunday night is effectively a must-win game for the Rams in order to keep pace in the Wild Card race and keep their slim postseason hopes alive.