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Win over Raiders would keep Seahawks well in the mix for NFC playoffs

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Los Angeles Rams v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks lost in Week 5, but so did a lot of teams. In fact, I’d say about half of them given that we somehow escaped a week without a tie. Of all the teams to lose in Week 5 however, the Seahawks may have gained the most.

  • Seattle played the best team in the NFL and the only team in the NFC that remains undefeated, the 5-0 LA Rams. It was a game that most had written off as a loss long ago, but the Seahawks held on close to only lose by two points and were getting close to field goal range by the end. The NFC West race is all but over. The wild card race is wide open.
  • Monday night features a game between the 3-1 New Orleans Saints and 2-1 Washington. A win by the Saints pushes Washington down to 2-2, but a win the other way gets Washington up to 3-1 and forces New Orleans down to 3-2, just a game ahead of Seattle. This would also surprisingly give Washington a 1.5 game advantage in the NFC East — because guess what, a lot of teams are not playing great.
  • No team in the NFC is winless following Arizona’s 28-18 win over the San Francisco 49ers. This puts both the Cardinals and the Niners at 1-4, same record as the Atlanta Falcons and New York Giants. The Falcons seem hopeless without Deion Jones and Keanu Neal, putting them 31st in scoring defense after a 41-17 defeat to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday. Next year, the Giants will be searching for a QB at the top of the draft, unless they opt to draft a running back instead; New York fell 33-31 to the Carolina Panthers. The 49ers have lost their starting QB and RB to torn ACLs and their top three receivers — Pierre Garcon, Marquise Goodwin, Dante Pettis — are all nursing injuries following their loss this week. This has essentially become a George Kittle development year for Kyle Shanahan.
  • That does mean that Seattle is only one game ahead of the cellar in the NFC, but they’re also only a half-game behind a wild card spot and their next opponent, the Oakland Raiders, is one of the worst teams in the NFL.
  • The Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings are tied in the NFC North at 2-2-1, behind the 3-1 Chicago Bears and ahead of the 2-3 Detroit Lions. The Packers put up 521 yards of total offense to the Lions and still somehow lost rather easily to a Lions team with roughly half the number of yards. (A big reason being Mason Crosby missing three routine field goals, a PAT, and a long field goal.) It was only the 16th time since the merger that a team lost while putting up over 500 yards and allowing fewer than 300 yards. (In 2000, the New York Jets went up 14-0 on the Baltimore Ravens, then lost 34-20 despite 524 total yards of offense and only 142 yards surrendered; Vinny Testaverde threw 69 passes.)
  • The Vikings beat the Philadelphia Eagles 23-21. Minnesota is 29th in yards per carry and 29th in net yards per pass attempt allowed. They can pass the ball, but they can’t stop the pass. Their next two games are at home vs the Cardinals and on the road against the Jets.
  • The Eagles fell to 2-3. The defending champs have lost two in a row and have dropped games to the Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Carson Wentz has good number but I’m not sure how much he’s helping the team right now and one of his touchdowns yesterday came with the game essentially out of reach.
  • The Lions are 2-3 after their win, a week after losing to the Dallas Cowboys, a team that fell to 2-3 on Sunday night following a loss to the Houston Texans. The NFC went 0-2 against the AFC this week.

The NFC Standings at the moment are:

  1. The LA Rams 5-0 (NFC West leader)
  2. Chicago Bears 3-1 (NFC North)
  3. New Orleans Saints 3-1 (NFC South)
  4. Washington 2-1 (NFC East)
  5. Carolina Panthers 3-1 (Wild Card)
  6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-2 (Wild Card)

The Seahawks are 2-3 and the Bucs, Saints, or Falcons have the worst defense in the NFL. Tampa Bay has also turned the ball over nine times in their last three games, with neither Ryan Fitzpatrick or Jameis Winston looking all that good at quarterback, plus the worst rushing offense in the NFL. Three of the Bucs’ next four games are on the road, and a loss to the Falcons next week (probably in 61-60 fashion) would really look terrible on their resume.

Seattle has the complications of playing in the UK on Sunday, but the Raiders should be terrible on any soil.

Under Jon Gruden, Oakland is off to a 1-4 start, their only win being 45-42 in OT against the Cleveland Browns. The Raiders are 29th in points allowed, 30th in yards allowed, 28th in rushing yards allowed, 27th in yards per carry allowed, 24th in yards per carry on offense, and in their own home date against the Rams, lost 33-13. Derek Carr has thrown a league-high eight picks and the entire defense only has six sacks, which is one fewer sack than Khalil Mack, who had the week off.

Beating Oakland is not a foregone conclusion, but it is something that the Seahawks should be able to do if they are going to compete for the NFC playoffs. Getting to 3-3 as they head into the bye week gives Seattle plenty of advantages in a close NFC race and should essentially have been the goal when the season started, especially with all of the injuries that the Seahawks have faced. Going into their Week 8 game against Detroit, Seattle could possibly be welcoming in tight end Ed Dickson, and welcoming back outside linebacker K.J. Wright. It also gives Doug Baldwin more time to rest and J.D. McKissic will be eligible to return in Week 9 vs the LA Chargers in Seattle.

Nobody’s saying the Seahawks aren’t flawed. We’ve seen their flaws. There are more of them than we’d like, but after Sunday’s game, less flaws than many people assumed. And given the flaws of every other NFC team besides the Rams, this race clearly remains wide open.