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NFC Playoff Picture 2012: 49ers Win Means No Saints Bye

Entering Week 17, there was a chance of the Atlanta Falcons traveling to play the San Francisco 49ers in the opening round of the playoffs, though that was the unlikeliest destination. But the Niners have beaten the St. Louis Rams, 34-27 after a comeback effort, meaning the playoff picture remains as expected.

The Birds will play either the Saints or the NFC East champs, depending on whether the Green Bay Packers can take down the Detroit Lions -- and whether Atlanta can beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, of course. The score in that game is 38-34, Packers, at the moment.

Some had hoped for an Atlanta trip to play San Fran, as Alex Smith is the least-threatening quarterback in a NFC field crowded with talented arms. (And, you know, they almost just let the nearly quarterbackless Rams come back.) Still the Niners have one of the NFL's best defenses and that's quite a

Head to for more Week 17 NFL playoff scenarios as the field comes into focus. For more on this game, visit 49ers blog Niners Nation and Rams blog Turf Show Times, plus SB Nation Bay Area and SB Nation St. Louis.

Photographs by coka_koehler used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.