There are no more bye weeks left in the 2017 NFL regular season, so the last six weeks will all feature full 16-game slates. The week 12 schedule... is really terrible. There is literally one very interesting matchup on the entire docket, and it just so happens to be the most important one for Seattle Seahawks fans to pay attention to.
Before we get to that, here are the NFC standings as of Thursday’s Thanksgiving games:
#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (9-1)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
#3 - New Orleans Saints (8-2)
#4 - Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
#5 - Carolina Panthers (7-3)
#6 - Atlanta Falcons (6-4)
#7 - Seattle Seahawks (6-4)
#8 - Detroit Lions (6-5)
#9 - Green Bay Packers (5-5)
#10 - Dallas Cowboys (5-6)
#11 - Washington (5-6)
#12 - Arizona Cardinals (4-6)
#13 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-6)
#14 - Chicago Bears (3-7)
#15 - New York Giants (2-9)
#16 - San Francisco 49ers (1-9)
Let’s be very honest with ourselves for a minute: Seattle is not going to get the #1 seed. They would need to win out and hope the Eagles, Vikings, Saints, etc. collapse just so they can at least get the #2 seed. I’m honestly not even sure what to make of the Seahawks having home field advantage, because they’ve arguably been worse at CenturyLink Field than on the road.
With that in mind, Seattle has to focus on the Los Angeles Rams first and foremost, and the wild card chase secondarily. This would’ve been a different story had Seattle won on Monday night, but c’est la vie. The good news is that the Lions lost on Thursday, so that helps the Seahawks in terms of wild card positioning. Ditto for the fading Dallas Cowboys getting waxed by the Los Angeles Chargers. If there’s a little bit of bad news, it’s that a Washington loss to the Giants would’ve put their season in the toilet, but now it’s merely on life support.
For the sake of optimism, let’s pull for the Chicago Bears to beat the Philadelphia Eagles, because in a world where the Seahawks beat the 49ers, the Eagles lose to the Bears, and then the Eagles lose to the Seahawks, Seattle is only a game back of Philadelphia with a tiebreaker in hand. I believe in you, Mitchell Trubisky!
The New Orleans Saints haven’t lost in two months, and now they’re on the road against the Los Angeles Rams. I don’t need to tell you that rooting for the Saints is the correct choice to make, but it should be noted that New Orleans will have neither Ken Crawley nor Marshon Lattimore available due to injuries to both starting corners. The Rams will be without Robert Woods for a few weeks, so Cooper Kupp and Sammy Watkins’ workloads will increase. It’s a tough task for New Orleans to keep this hot streak going, and I hope the running game continues to propel their offense. Geaux Saints!
Fresh off of their win on Monday night, the Atlanta Falcons host the Ryan Fitzpatrick-led Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have picked up a couple of wins in a row, albeit too late in the season to really make a run at anything. Atlanta holds the tiebreaker on Seattle, so the Buccaneers are our friend for the weekend.
In New Jersey, the Carolina Panthers look to keep pace with the Saints in the NFC South, as they take on the overachieving yet still bad New York Jets. Jermaine Kearse is very good at showing up against the Panthers, and the Seahawks sure could use a big game from him. The only negative out of a Panthers loss would be the fact that their conference record would remain intact, but that’s about it. J-E-T-S! JETS! JETS! JETS!
Lastly, and this is really not that important, the 5-5 Packers travel to Pittsburgh to face the 8-2 Steelers on Sunday Night Football. Brett Hundley is terrible, but the Steelers have a really bad habit of randomly losing games to teams they should be thumping. Green Bay staying in the playoff hunt is highly unlikely, but we don’t want a situation where Aaron Rodgers swoops in off of IR to save the day. Losing to Pittsburgh would surely be the nail in the coffin on the Packers’ season. On the other hand, the Steelers blowing a lay-up home game against Green Bay would be funny, so don’t be too concerned about the Pack.
Teams to 100% root for on Sunday: Tampa Bay, NY Jets, Chicago, New Orleans