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Rest of the NFC West, Week 18: All but Seahawks qualify for postseason

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Los Angeles Rams Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

After the Seattle Seahawks walked off of the field with a season-ending win at Arizona, a sober reality set in. This was the final game of the season, regardless of how strongly they had finished. For the rest of the division though, the season marches on into the playoffs. All three rivals will be in action next week on Wild Card Weekend. Here’s what you need to know to prepare to root against them next weekend.

49ers prove resiliency, win late in Los Angeles

At halftime, the 49ers looked all out of the playoff race. Down 17-3, with Jimmy Garoppolo playing horribly and the Saints comfortably ahead in Atlanta, their season was on life support. However, leaning on young talents like Deebo Samuel (who threw a touchdown on a trick play to tie it up, to go with 154 total yards), Brandon Aiyuk (6 rec, 107 yards), and Elijah Mitchell (21 car, 85 yards), and with serviceable play from Garoppolo, the 49ers crawled all the way back to tie the game 24-24 before the end of regulation. A field goal and game-sealing interception of Matthew Stafford gave the 49ers the win and a Wild Card spot.

The big question heading into next week’s matchup with the Cowboys will be the play of Jimmy Garoppolo. If he throws multiple interceptions again, will the Niners be able to pull off the same miracle and crawl back into the game? Against the high-flying Dallas offense, I see that being unlikely. Garoppolo will have to play a clean game for the 49ers to advance, and if he turns the ball over multiple times, I don’t like their chances.

Rams again owned by 49ers, fall to fourth seed

Coming into the game, the Rams had the chance to move to the #2 seed, but due to another rough outing from Matt Stafford (2 int) and a previously unseen second-half collapse (the Rams were 43-0 when leading at half under McVay), they have dropped all the way to fourth. A division title is slight consolation, but the Rams will still have the same opponent they would have had Arizona gotten the division title: Arizona.

Cooper Kupp was certainly not the reason for the loss. Nor was Matthew Stafford, even though he contributed. The real killer against the 49ers was their inability to establish the run with the lead in the second half (rushing for just 2.4 yards per carry in the game). Maybe they can take a page out of the Seahawks’ book when trying to beat Arizona next week. Running worked pretty well for Rashaad Penny and co.

Cardinals continue free-fall, drop fourth of last five

Boy, the Cardinals look awful. Kyler Murray was visibly upset all game Sunday, and the offense struggled pretty severely at times (with 14 of their points being scored by a total of one yard of offense thanks to Seahawks turnovers). I won’t bore you with the details of the game, as I’m sure you watched it, but needless to say Arizona is in big trouble. And with James Conner going down with an injury late on, just about every offensive star besides Murray is unhealthy in one way or another. I would bet strongly against them in the playoffs.

Final Standings

Los Angeles Rams - 12-5 (3-3DIV)

Arizona Cardinals - 11-6 (4-2 DIV)

San Francisco 49ers - 10-7 (2-4 DIV)

Seattle Seahawks - 7-10 (3-3 DIV)

Next Week

Arizona Cardinals at Los Angeles Rams

San Francisco 49ers at Dallas Cowboys

Seattle Seahawks at VMAC