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NFL playoff picture: What does Dolphins-49ers mean for AFC and NFC standings

The Dolphins and 49ers face off on Sunday in Santa Clara. We break down what the game means for the NFL playoff picture.

A general view of the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Green Bay Packers at Levi’s Stadium on September 26, 2021 in Santa Clara, California. Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The San Francisco 49ers host the Miami Dolphins in a huge inter-conference showdown. The potential Super Bowl preview features two teams rolling in the second half of the season, and also offers the Mike McDaniel vs. Kyle Shanahan narrative. The latter will get plenty of play in the broadcast, but the former is a bigger deal as the playoffs approach.

The 49ers entered Sunday’s game as five-point favorites at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Dolphins playoff picture

Miami is 8-3 and sits a half game back of the Bills following Buffalo’s win over the Patriots on Thursday. Miami and Buffalo face off in Week 15 and that could be the matchup that decides the division champ. For now, the Dolphins are in fifth place, holding the top wild card berth with a one-game lead on the Bengals.

If the Dolphins win, they move back into first place in the AFC East, which also moves them into second place overall. If the Dolphins lose, they would either remain fifth, or drop to sixth if the Bengals beat the Chiefs.

49ers playoff picture

The 49ers are 7-4 and have a one-game lead on the Seahawks in the NFC West. They face Seattle in Week 15 on Thursday Night Football, and that could be what locks up the division for the 49ers. San Francisco is currently in third place overall, sitting two games up on the fourth-place Bucs and 2.5 games back of the second-place Vikings.

Tiebreaker implications

This has no impact on either team’s divisional tiebreakers because neither is a common opponent with the other’s division-mates. Common games is the third tiebreaker for conference playoff standings, so it could come into play there.