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NFC Playoff Picture and week 15 rooting guide: The Seahawks have no more room for error

Green Bay Packers v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Justin Berl/Getty Images

Let’s not beat around the bush. The Seattle Seahawks are playing for their season on Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. Thanks to nearly the worst set of results possible in week 14, Seattle finds themselves not only out of the playoffs right now, but with a bunch of wild card teams previously left for dead now breathing down their neck.

#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (11-2)

#2 - Minnesota Vikings (10-3)

#3 - Los Angeles Rams (9-4)

#4 - New Orleans Saints (9-4)


#5 - Carolina Panthers (9-4)

#6 - Atlanta Falcons (8-5)


#7 - Seattle Seahawks (8-5)

#8 - Detroit Lions (7-6)

#9 - Green Bay Packers (7-6)

#10 - Dallas Cowboys (7-6)

#11 - Arizona Cardinals (6-7)

Last week’s playoff rooting guide was dependent on whether you were sensible enough to realize the ramifications of a Seahawks loss, or optimistic enough to believe Seattle was going to win out and that a first-round bye was still possible. You know what happened, so we won’t rehash things beyond that.

This week is clear-cut from a Seahawks point-of-view. You have to cheer for certain outcomes based on prepping for the worst case scenario. Forget what seed the Seahawks could get if they win the NFC West, they just need to get the hell into the playoffs regardless of seeding.

Our rooting interests begin Saturday, as the Chicago Bears travel to Detroit to play the Lions. If Seattle loses and Detroit wins, Detroit has the tiebreaker by virtue of a superior conference record. Seattle also doesn’t have the common games tiebreaker on Detroit, so basically Detroit has to finish with a worse record than the Seahawks at the end of the season. I believe in Mitchell Trubisky, even though his first name is Mitchell for some reason.

On Sunday, Aaron Rodgers returns to the Green Bay Packers lineup as the Pack travel to Charlotte to face the Panthers. Green Bay has the head-to-head tiebreaker on Seattle, so don’t entertain rooting for a Packers win. Just don’t. They can also be mathematically eliminated depending on how Atlanta-Tampa Bay goes.

After the Rams-Seahawks game is wrapped up, the Dallas Cowboys are at the Oakland Raiders on Sunday Night Football. Marshawn Lynch has quietly rushed for 162 yards on just 24 carries in his last two games, and I’d love nothing more than for Beast Mode to crush Dallas’ dwindling playoff chances. Much like Green Bay, they risk being mathematically eliminated with a loss and an Atlanta win, so root for the Raiders, and I really mean Marshawn Lynch.

Last but not least, and this is the big one, the Atlanta Falcons at Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday Night Football. As of now, the only teams ahead of Seattle in the wild card race are Carolina and Atlanta. The one thing that cannot happen is for the Seahawks to fall a full game behind the Falcons, as the tiebreaker means they need to lose their last two games, which considering they’re at New Orleans and host Carolina, it is still possible. Tampa Bay is a really bad team but they are at home and much like Miami’s win over New England last week, there’s always the chance of that upset result in a divisional rivalry. We have to pull for the Buccaneers.

I’m sorry if the tone of this piece comes across like I’m expecting a Seahawks loss to the Rams... but I kind of do (mostly because of the Bobby Wagner and KJ Wright injuries), and the only way for Seattle to make the playoffs as a wild card team is for all of their wild card adversaries to lose with them.

Suppose Seattle does beat the Rams and all of those other results end favorably for them? Well not only do they have the tiebreaker on Los Angeles, thus putting themselves in a strong position to win the NFC West, but the only teams they’d have to worry about in the event they slip back into the wild card race are the Falcons and one of the Saints or Panthers (should New Orleans lose to a bad Jets team). Detroit, Green Bay, and Dallas would all be pretty much doomed. Come to think of it, if Seattle wins on Sunday, perhaps going for Atlanta over Tampa Bay isn’t the worst thing, as those three teams would all be mathematically finished.

The worst case scenario is that Seattle loses, all of the wild card contenders win, and the Seahawks find themselves down in the #10 spot, basically with little hope of a postseason berth.

Teams to root for: Bears, Panthers, Raiders, Buccaneers