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NFL playoff picture: Seahawks can clinch division, Cowboys can clinch 1 seed this week

Carolina Panthers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks can win the NFC West for the fourth time in seven seasons under Pete Carroll this weekend, depending on what they and the Arizona Cardinals do. The Seahawks can clinch with a win vs the Green Bay Packers and a Cardinals’ loss or tie vs the Miami Dolphins OR if Seattle ties and Arizona loses. Both the Seahawks and Cardinals are on the road this week.

That is the only scenario available to Seattle this week, they can’t clinch just a playoff berth or a bye week, but clinching the division would guarantee them at least one home game in the postseason. Arizona pulled out a somewhat unexpected win over the Washington Redskins last week — if the Seahawks and Cardinals both win this week, then it becomes a three-game lead with three games to go, meaning that any loss by Arizona or win by Seattle would give the Seahawks the division. The two teams meet in Week 16 in Seattle so that could also be a clinching scenario for the Seahawks, but it’s an uphill battle for the Cardinals to force that.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Cowboys, who clinched a playoff berth last week, can clinch the NFC East, a bye week, and the number one seed this weekend; the Cowboys clinch the NFC East simply by beating the New York Giants on Sunday; they get a first round bye if they win and the Detroit Lions lose or tie OR the Seahawks lose; they get homefield advantage throughout the playoffs if they win and the Lions and Seahawks both lose.

But how can Seattle get closer to that bye week?

If the Seahawks win they improve to 9-3-1. Let’s also say the Cardinals lose, clinching the division for Seattle. Also, the Lions lose, dropping them to 8-5. (Detroit hosts the Chicago Bears so it is unlikely.) Then next week, the Seahawks could theoretically be 10-3-1 while the Lions could fall to 8-6, this would guarantee them a spot ahead of Detroit, while we also wait and see what happens to the 7-5 Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons between now and then, they’d also have to drop a game. The Bucs schedule makes it unlikely that they’ll win out, while the Falcons have dealt with a lot of injuries and disarray lately. I don’t think either will get the two seed, it comes down to Seattle and Detroit, I believe.

That could happen next week, but more than likely, it isn’t clinched for either team until Week 16 or Week 17. The Seahawks have the advantage in the loss column, but first need to beat the Packers to make that count.