NFL Playoff Picture 2011: NFC West Belongs To San Francisco 49ers

GLENDALE, AZ - DECEMBER 11: Head coach Jim Harbaugh of the San Francisco 49ers stands with quarterback Alex Smith #11 on the sidelines during the NFL game against the Arizona Cardinals at the University of Phoenix Stadium on December 11, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the 49ers 21-19. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The San Francisco 49ers are the NFC West champions, but have a battle on their hands for a bye in the playoffs.

The San Francisco 49ers have already wrapped up the NFC West, thanks to a strong run of play and a weak division. At 10-3, the Niners have completely run away with the West, stretching their lead over the Arizona Cardinals to four games, even after Sunday's loss. And as it stands now, the Cardinals are the No. 2 seed in the NFC, despite having the same record as the New Orleans Saints.

The 49ers hold the tiebreaker over the Saints thanks to a better win percentage against conference opponents. Both teams have a three-game cushion over the New York Giants, who currently lead the NFC East and are the No. 4 seed in the NFC. With three games to go, the Niners and Saints are battling for the second bye, with three games between themselves and the Packers -- the current No. 1 seed in the NFC.

The Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks are on the outside looking in at 6-7 and 5-7 respectively. The Cardinals are two games back of the lowest-seeded NFC wildcard teams and the Seahawks can slide into the same position with a win on Monday Night Football.

For more on the playoff picture, visit our NFL hub.

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