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NFL playoff brackets: Rooting guide for Seahawks fans in season finale

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

Week 16 finished with the Dallas Cowboys beating the Detroit Lions 42-21. Since the Seattle Seahawks lost to the Arizona Cardinals, the Atlanta Falcons control their own destiny to keep the two-seed and the coveted bye week entering the NFC playoffs. Based on the vast number of scenarios involving Week 17 matches, I wanted to put together a comprehensive guide for fans to understand how these matches will affect the Seahawks’ playoff chances.

So, who should you root for in Week 17?

Some of these games have definitive answers, while other games will completely depend on who you want Seattle to play in the playoffs.

Here are the important games to keep an eye on next week:

  • Seattle Seahawks (9-5-1) at San Francisco 49ers (2-13) – Obviously, you want the Hawks to win this game. If they don’t, they will automatically get the four-seed and will have to host Eli Manning and the New York Giants in the wild card. In my opinion, this is the worst-case scenario based on how well the Giants defense has been playing this season.
  • New Orleans Saints (7-8) at Atlanta Falcons (10-5) – You should cheer for the Saints. If Atlanta wins their game, they will automatically get the two-seed and the bye week in the playoffs. If the Falcons lose and Seattle wins, the Hawks take the two-seed.
  • Green Bay Packers (9-6) at Detroit Lions (9-6) – If they tie this game, then both teams make the playoffs. The winner of this match will take the three-seed if the Seahawks lose while the winner will take the four-seed if the Seahawks win. Loser will take the six-seed if the Giants beat the Redskins. Loser will also completely miss the playoffs if Washington wins their game.
  • New York Giants (10-5) at Washington Redskins (8-6-1) - The Redskins (almost) control their own destiny. If they win, they will grab the six-seed assuming there is no tie between the Lions and the Packers. If Washington loses, they are out of the playoffs.
  • Carolina Panthers (6-9) at Tampa Bay Buccaneers (8-7) – The Bucs can only make the playoffs if they win, the Saints win, the 49ers win, the Lions win, and the Giants and Redskins tie.

Based on the above matches, who do you want the Seahawks to face?

  • I want the Bye Week: You need Seattle to win and Atlanta to lose. It’s that simple.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want to play the Packers in the Wild Card: You want the Seahawks and the Falcons win, while you want the Redskins and the Packers to lose.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want the Lions in the Wild Card: You want the Giants to beat the Redskins or you want the Packers and the Lions to tie. Either way Detroit will take the 6 seed.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want the Redskins in the Wild Card: You want Washington to beat the Giants and you want either the Packers or the Lions to win. If that’s the case, then you want the Seahawks to stay in the three-seed with a victory over the 49ers.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want to face the Falcons in the Wild Card: The earliest you can face Atlanta is in the Divisional round.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want the Giants in the Wild Card: You want the Seahawks to lose to the 49ers.
  • If I can’t have the bye week, then I want the Bucs in the Wild Card: If Tampa Bay somehow make the playoffs, then they will have the six-seed while Seattle has the four-seed. They won’t be able to face each other until the NFC Conference championship.

If it were me, the Giants are the last team I’d want to face based on their stout defense. Best case scenario for me would be the Redskins based on their awful run defense even though their offense is Top 5 according to FootballOutsiders. Second choice would be the Lions, while the third would be the Packers based on their previous matchup.