The Seattle Seahawks have made life a little bit harder for themselves with their unexpected home loss to Washington last weekend, but did get a much-needed win at Arizona on Thursday night. Here’s the updated playoff standings:
NFC Playoff Standings
#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (8-1)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (6-2)
#3 - New Orleans Saints (6-2)
#4 - Los Angeles Rams (6-2)
#5 - Seattle Seahawks (6-3)
#6 - Carolina Panthers (6-3)
#7 - Dallas Cowboys (5-3)
#8 - Atlanta Falcons (4-4)
#9 - Detroit Lions (4-4)
#10 - Green Bay Packers (4-4)
#11 - Washington (4-4)
#12 - Arizona Cardinals (4-4)
#13 - Chicago Bears (3-5)
#14 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-6)
#15 - New York Giants (1-7)
#16 - San Francisco 49ers (0-9)
If you’re the most optimistic person in the world, even with the injuries suffered on Thursday, then the Seahawks can still win the NFC West by simply winning out. They may be one game back of the Rams, but a win over LA in week 15 would give them the season sweep and thus the tiebreaker advantage. Realistically speaking, the Seahawks are going to need some help in order to retake the division lead and stay in the hunt for a first-round bye.
Here’s a rundown of the matchups for the six teams ahead of Seattle in playoff positioning:
#1 Philadelphia - Bye week.
#2 Minnesota - Road game against Washington.
#3 New Orleans - Road game against Buffalo.
#4 Los Angeles Rams - Home game against Houston.
#5 Carolina - Home game against Miami.
#6 Dallas - Road game against Atlanta.
That Vikings/Washington game is an interesting one. If you don’t think the Seahawks are going to win the NFC West, then the Vikings keeping Washington off of Seattle’s trail is preferred. Otherwise, pulling for Washington is the better call. Besides, we’ll need Minnesota’s help when they play the Rams next week.
New Orleans is red-hot, having won six straight after starting out 0-2. That said, the Bills are at home and the Saints are a dome team that has to deal with temperatures in the lower 40s. The bad news here is that a Saints loss would not affect their NFC conference record, which is superior to Seattle’s. Still, an identical win-loss record with Seattle is the next best thing.
The Rams against Houston would’ve made for fascinating viewing had Deshaun Watson not suffered a torn ACL last week. It’s a no-brainer to root for the Texans but there’s very little reason to believe this will be anything other than Houston getting curbstomped.
Somehow the Panthers are 6-3, and they’ve relied on their defense to get them to this point. They have a Monday night game against the Dolphins, whose games are so awful to watch that I argue they shouldn’t be televised at all. Miami’s terrible offense is likely to get crushed by that Carolina defense, but if the Dolphins can pull off the upset, you won’t hear me complaining.
Last but not least, the resurgent Dallas Cowboys travel to Atlanta to face the slumping 4-4 Falcons. Seattle hosts Atlanta on November 20th and travels to Dallas on Christmas Eve. Atlanta’s offense is still #7 in DVOA, but the vaunted passing attack from 2016 is just #13 in 2017. Dan Quinn’s defense looked to be improving towards the end of last season, but they’re 29th this season. The Cowboys will not have Ezekiel Elliott or Tyron Smith, so if the Falcons can’t win that game then maybe they’re just bad. Ideally, Atlanta beats Dallas, Seattle beats Atlanta on Monday night, thus giving the Seahawks a two-game lead over the Falcons plus the head-to-head tiebreaker. Also of importance is Dallas’ next game is a Sunday night showdown against the Eagles, so Jason Garrett’s team cannot really afford to stumble over these next two weeks.
Teams to root for: Washington, Houston, Buffalo, Atlanta, Miami