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NFC playoff picture: Seahawks can improve to #2 seed with win vs. Texans and some help

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NFL: Seattle Seahawks at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

We’re almost at the halfway stage of the 2017 NFL season, which seems to be a good enough time to start talking about the playoff picture. As you can see, only five teams in the NFC are more than a game above .500.

NFC Playoff Standings

#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (6-1)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (5-2)
#3 - Los Angeles Rams (5-2)
#4 - New Orleans Saints (4-2)

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#5 - Seattle Seahawks (4-2)
#6 - Green Bay Packers (4-3)

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#7 - Carolina Panthers (4-3)
#8 - Atlanta Falcons (3-3)
#9 - Dallas Cowboys (3-3)
#10 - Detroit Lions (3-3)
#11 - Washington Redskins (3-3)
#12 - Arizona Cardinals (3-4)
#13 - Chicago Bears (3-4)
#14 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-4)
#15 - New York Giants (1-6)
#16 - San Francisco 49ers (0-7)

The ideal ending to the regular season for the Seattle Seahawks is home-field advantage throughout the playoffs, as history has shown that they’ve made it to the Super Bowl 100% of the time as a #1 seed. Task number one is for Seattle to actually win the NFC West, and they can recapture first-place with a win over the Houston Texans on Sunday.

Realistically speaking, snatching top spot back from the Rams is about as far as Seattle can improve their standing after week 8. The Eagles, who sport the league’s best record, play a 10 AM home game against the 0-7 San Francisco 49ers. Meanwhile, the 5-2 Minnesota Vikings travel to London to take on the 0-7 Cleveland Browns. Outside of the surprise factor with these London games, there’s no reason to believe Cleveland can do anything against Minnesota’s defense.

As for the team with an equal record to the Seahawks, the 4-2 New Orleans Saints host the 3-4 Chicago Bears, who have won two straight despite barely mustering any semblance of a passing offense. If New Orleans and Seattle both win, the Saints would own the conference record tiebreaker over the Seahawks — New Orleans would be 4-1 vs. NFC opposition, whereas Seattle is playing an AFC team on Sunday and are currently 3-1.

The best case scenario for the Seahawks is a win over Houston, coupled with losses by the Vikings and Saints. This would put Seattle into the #2 seed, with only Philadelphia ahead of them.

Other relevant NFC matchups include Carolina against Tampa Bay, Dallas at Washington (the loser surely has no chance of winning the NFC East), Atlanta at the New York Jets, and Detroit hosting the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday Night Football.

Team to root for this weekend: Cleveland, San Francisco (worsens their draft position!), Chicago, Tampa Bay, NY Jets, and Pittsburgh. I don’t think there’s any preference towards Dallas or Washington, but Washington has the higher DVOA and a loss gives Seattle an opportunity to effectively end their season when they play each other on November 5th.