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NFL playoff picture: Seahawks drop out of bye week, will need help from Cowboys, Saints

Arizona Cardinals v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks could have secured a bye week in the NFC by winning their last two games, but that plan fell apart as the Arizona Cardinals beat the Seahawks in Seattle for the third time since 2013. (The rest of the NFL has a combined three wins in Seattle in that same period of time.)

By dropping to 9-5-1, the Seahawks fell behind the 10-5 Atlanta Falcons. The 9-5 Detroit Lions play the Cowboys in Dallas on Monday, but if they pull out the win, they’ll improve to 10-5 and push Seattle all the way down to being the four seed.

If the Seahawks end up as the four seed, they could be hosting the New York Giants in two weeks in the wild card round. The Giants will secure the five seed with a win over the Redskins in Washington next weekend, but the Redskins are potentially playing for their playoff lives. If Washington wins, they’ll go to 9-6-1. If the Lions lose their last two games, they’ll be 9-7.

Then Detroit would be out, the Redskins would be the six seed, and the Green Bay Packers would win the NFC North at 10-6. (Because it means they beat the Lions in Week 17.)

So in that case, if Seattle wins next week and the Falcons lose to the New Orleans Saints, then the Seahawks will get a bye week. If Atlanta wins, the Falcons will get the bye week, assuming the Lions lose one of their next two games. Seattle needs to beat the San Francisco 49ers -- and if they can’t do that, the bye week wasn’t going to help anyway — and hope that New Orleans pulls the upset, while Detroit loses either to Dallas or Green Bay.

I wouldn’t count out the Saints.

It’s a divisional game, number one. A year ago in Week 17, New Orleans also had to play in Atlanta for the finale, and they beat the Falcons 20-17. The Saints are 7-5 since an 0-3 start. It’s Drew Brees, and perhaps Sean Payton in his final game with New Orleans if they decide to explore the trade market with him.

The Seahawks need to take care of business in Santa Clara, and need some help, but are at least headed to the playoffs and are far from out of the running for that bye week. If there was an NFC South team that I most wanted the Falcons to have to beat for the two seed, it was the Saints.