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I’m giving thanks this week that it feels like Christmas for the Seahawks playoff chances

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Green Bay Packers v Seattle Seahawks Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

Following the Seattle Seahawks victory over the Green Bay Packers on Thursday, the team had Sunday off and were able to sit back and enjoy watching some of the other teams in the NFC playoff race. Coming in to Sunday in sole possession of seventh place in the NFC, but more than a full game out of the sixth spot, there was no way that Sunday could end with the Seahawks on the inside looking out in terms of the playoffs. However, that didn’t mean their positioning couldn’t improve if the teams in front of Seattle failed to perform.

And boy howdy, did the teams in front of Seattle fail to perform, which most certainly improved the Hawks playoff positioning. Here’s a reminder of what the NFC standings looked after the Thursday night game and heading into the games Sunday.

NFC Standings entering Sunday

Team W L T PCT
Team W L T PCT
Los Angeles Rams 9 1 0 0.9
New Orleans Saints 8 1 0 0.889
Chicago Bears 6 3 0 0.667
Washington Redskins 6 3 0 0.667
Carolina Panthers 6 3 0 0.667
Minnesota Vikings 5 3 1 0.611
Seattle Seahawks 5 5 0 0.444
Atlanta Falcons 4 5 0 0.444
Philadelphia Eagles 4 5 0 0.444
Dallas Cowboys 4 5 0 0.444
Green Bay Packers 4 5 1 0.5
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 6 0 0.333
Detroit Lions 3 6 0 0.333
Arizona Cardinals 2 7 0 0.222
New York Giants 2 7 0 0.222
San Francisco 49ers 2 8 0 0.2

So, in short, the Seahawks wanted the teams in front of them to lose and the teams in their immediate vicinity to lose and, just for fun, the teams well behind them to lose.

Without question, the biggest improvement for the playoff hopes of the Seahawks would come from losses by the two teams that Seattle was right behind in the Wild Card race, the Carolina Panthers and the Minnesota Vikings. Kenneth covered the ramifications of the Panthers loss to the Detroit Lions Sunday, and then on Sunday Night Football the Chicago Bears helped out the Hawks by defeating the Vikings 25-20.

In theory, that sets Seattle up to play for the number six seed in the NFC this weekend, except for one little detail - the Washington Redskins loss to the Houston Texans. I’ll come back to that in just a moment, but first I’m going to weed through the three teams that were tied with Seattle entering Week 11: the Dallas Cowboys, the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles.

I will start with the Eagles, since there isn’t a whole lot that needs to be said about the fact that they were absolutely destroyed by the New Orleans Saints. The 41 point margin of defeat was the largest loss in NFL history by a defending Super Bowl champion, and leaves the Eagles at 4-6, with playoff hopes quickly fading, but far from dead.

Then there was the must-win matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Dallas Cowboys Sunday, which saw both teams enter the contest at 4-5. Dallas built a two score fourth quarter lead, then saw that lead evaporate, and then drove down the field to win on a game ending field goal as time expired. That victory left Dallas at 5-5 and tied with the Seahawks in seventh place. Obviously, Seattle defeated Dallas in Week 3, so the Hawks hold the tiebreaker over the Cowboys, but more importantly the win set the Cowboys up for a Week 12 showdown with the NFC East lead on the line. Here’s a look at the current NFC standings through Week 11, pending the Monday night game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Kansas City Chiefs.

NFC Standings heading pending Monday night game

Team W L T PCT
Team W L T PCT
New Orleans Saints 9 1 0 0.900
Los Angeles Rams 9 1 0 0.900
Chicago Bears 7 3 0 0.700
Washington Redskins 6 4 0 0.600
Carolina Panthers 6 4 0 0.600
Minnesota Vikings 5 4 1 0.550
Seattle Seahawks 5 5 0 0.500
Dallas Cowboys 5 5 0 0.500
Green Bay Packers 4 5 1 0.450
Atlanta Falcons 4 6 0 0.400
Detroit Lions 4 6 0 0.400
Philadelphia Eagles 4 6 0 0.400
New York Giants 3 7 0 0.300
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 3 7 0 0.300
Arizona Cardinals 2 8 0 0.200
San Francisco 49ers 2 8 0 0.200

Dallas will host its annual Thanksgiving day game on Thursday, and this year it is Washington that comes to town. Washington enters at 6-4, one game ahead of Dallas in the standings and holding the tiebreaker as a result of their Week 7 win over the Cowboys. However, if Dallas wins on Thursday, that pulls the two teams into a tie at 6-5, and having split the season series, the tiebreaker moves to the division record. Dallas is currently 2-1 in the division, so a win would move them to 3-1 (.750), while Washington is 2-0 in the division, but a loss would drop them to 2-1 (.667).

That means that a Cowboys win on Thursday moves Dallas into the lead into the NFC East division, rendering the Seahawks tiebreaker over the Cowboys meaningless for the time being. Such a scenario would then see Washington drop into the Wild Card picture at 6-5.

Assuming the Seattle pulls off the road win in Carolina, that would put them at 6-5 and tied with Washington, so it would turn to tiebreakers. Since they have not played this season and are not in the same division, it goes to conference record. The Hawks would be 5-3 against NFC opponents with a win over the Panthers, while a loss to Dallas would drop Washington to 6-3 against the NFC. That means Washington would still hold the tiebreaker over the Seahawks, at least for a week.

Thus, if both of those transpire, and I’m assuming Dallas is likely to win because of the fact that Washington has been absolutely obliterated by injuries this season with Alex Smith added to the list Sunday, then whether or not the Hawks work their way into the sixth seed will turn on the Sunday Night Football matchup between Minnesota and Green Bay. If the Vikings wins, they obviously remain ahead of the Hawks, which coupled with Washington slipping out of first and into one of the Wild Card spots, would keep the Hawks on the outside in 7th place.

So, go Aaron Rodgers?