Week 13 is a crucial one for not just the Seattle Seahawks, but for shaping up the entire NFC playoff race. Check out the current standings, as of the Dallas Cowboys’ 38-14 romp over Washington on Thursday night:
#1 - Philadelphia Eagles (10-1)
#2 - Minnesota Vikings (9-2)
#3 - Los Angeles Rams (8-3)
#4 - New Orleans Saints (8-3)
#5 - Carolina Panthers (8-3)
#6 - Atlanta Falcons (7-4)
#7 - Seattle Seahawks (7-4)
#8 - Detroit Lions (6-5)
#9 - Dallas Cowboys (6-6)
#10 - Green Bay Packers (5-6)
#11 - Arizona Cardinals (5-6)
#12 - Washington (5-7)
#13 - Tampa Bay Buccaneers (4-7)
#14 - Chicago Bears (3-8)
#15 - New York Giants (2-9)
#16 - San Francisco 49ers (1-10) - Mathematically eliminated
These are the games Seahawks fans should pay close attention to on Sunday:
Los Angeles Rams at Arizona Cardinals, 1:25 PM PT (FOX). Unless Jeff Fisher takes over the Rams for the final five weeks of the season, the Rams are going to finish with a winning record for the first time since 2003. The Arizona Cardinals aren’t going anywhere near the postseason, but they are likely to finish with a good enough record to play themselves out of a top-10 draft pick. Blaine Gabbert led the Cards to a surprise upset win over the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Seahawks would love for Gabbert to repeat the same thing against the Rams. Arizona didn’t score the last time they played the Rams, but they have proven to at least be competent at home.
Minnesota Vikings at Atlanta Falcons, 10 AM PT (FOX). In a different world where the Seahawks beat the Falcons two weeks ago, I’d advocate pulling for the Falcons, but I can’t do that. If you’re still a believer in a first-round bye, then the opportunity to be just a game back of Minnesota is still enticing. Otherwise, ride the Case Keenum train for another week.
Carolina Panthers at New Orleans Saints, 1:25 PM PT (FOX). The Saints just had to pick last week to lose, and their defense suffered without both starting cornerbacks available. They’ve already beaten up Carolina once, but if they do it again, they’ll have a virtual two-game lead over the Panthers, whose NFC conference record is 4-3 to New Orleans’ 6-2. From a Seahawks standpoint, I find the Saints to be the much more dangerous team, and if Seattle does make it to the playoffs, I don’t want to go to the Superdome. It pains me to say it, but a Carolina win is preferred this week, but we’ll be cheering for the Saints next week when they’re at Atlanta on Thursday night.
Detroit Lions at Baltimore Ravens, 10 AM PT (FOX). Baltimore is a top-10 team in DVOA based off of the #1 defense and #1 special teams carrying what is a truly horrifying offense. A Detroit win on the road would mean that should the Seahawks lose to the Eagles, Detroit would overtake Seattle on the strength-of-victory tiebreaker. If Seattle wins and Detroit loses, then there’s some clear water between the two teams with four games to play. Pull for the Ravens.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Green Bay Packers, 10 AM PT (FOX). This is of lower priority, but Aaron Rodgers is practicing for the first time since injuring his collarbone in October. The Packers’ playoff hopes are slim, but it’s not inconceivable to think they win against the Bucs and Browns and find themselves at 7-6 heading into their week 15 matchup at Carolina. Rodgers would be eligible to return for week 16 against the Vikings. I doubt Green Bay is good enough to rattle off three wins in a row before a potential Rodgers return, but just to make sure they’re completely squashed out of the playoff picture, go Bucs!
The absolute worst case scenario is Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Detroit all winning, and the Seahawks losing. They’d be virtually two back of the Falcons, actually two back of the Rams, and behind the Lions on tiebreaker in the wild card.
Teams to root for on Sunday: Cardinals, Vikings, Panthers, Ravens, Buccaneers