The Seattle Seahawks entered Week 12 needing to take care of business on their own and to get some help in order to slide into one of the NFC Wild Card spots. They certainly took care of things on Sunday afternoon in Charlotte, dispatching the Panthers 30-27 and taking possession of yet another tiebreaker that could prove crucial down the stretch.
The Hawks are now 3-0 in games against teams in the NFC Wild Card race (4-0 if one chooses to declare the Detroit Lions, whose Wild Card hopes remain on life support, still in the race), with victories over the Dallas Cowboys, the Green Bay Packers and the Carolina Panthers. It’s unlikely the Hawks require the tiebreaker over the Cowboys because of Dallas’ hold on the lead in the NFC East or the Packers because of the tie, but it’s still nice to have that in their possession.
Now comes the fun.
By the time the Seahawks take the field against the San Francisco 49ers next Sunday they will likely already be in one of the two Wild Card spots because as much as many claim to hate Thursday Night Football, this week it’s the New Orleans Saints at the Dallas Cowboys. A Saints victory over Dallas drops Dallas to 6-6 and out of first place in the NFC East, a half a game behind the Washington Redskins who take a short trip on Monday to take on the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Cowboys dropping out of first place in the NFC East puts them back in the Wild Card race, and at 6-6 would put them a half game behind the Seahawks, who would slide up into the sixth seed pending the remaining Week 13 games.
Things in the NFC East could get extremely interesting this weekend, as if Dallas loses on Thursday (narrator: they will) and the Eagles beat Washington on Monday, that would leave all three teams at 6-6 heading into the final quarter of the season. Of that three team traffic jam, Dallas would remain in first in the division for now, with the other two staying in the Wild Card race.
In the other three divisions things are far more clear cut. The Saints and the Los Angeles Rams each hold a commanding four game lead with five games remaining, which means they can both clinch a playoff berth with a win in Week 13. Thus, the Thursday game is not only a chance for the Saints to knock the Cowboys out of the playoffs for the time being, it’s a chance for them to become the first team to clinch a playoff spot this season, and to do so during the month of November.
In the NFC North the Chicago Bears hold a 1.75 game lead over the Minnesota Vikings. Worst case scenario for the Seahawks when it comes to the NFC North at this point involves the Bears somehow stumbling down the stretch and ending up behind Minnesota in the standings. Thanks to their Week 2 victory over the Hawks, the Bears are the one team that could pose a tiebreaker threat to Seattle in the Wild Card race, but with games remaining against the New York Giants and the 49ers, that seems unlikely. That said, a lot could rest on the health of quarterback Mitch Trubisky, and in Week 13 they travel to take on a Giants team that has been far more competitive in recent weeks.
As for the Seahawks, it’s now about handling their business. They have five games remaining, and three of those five games are against two of the worst teams in the league, the 49ers and Arizona Cardinals. If the Seahawks can’t make the playoffs against that schedule, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.
Here are the updated NFC standings after the conclusion of the Week 13 games.
NFC standings heading into Week 13 games
|New Orleans Saints||10||1||0||0.909|
|Los Angeles Rams||10||1||0||0.909|
|Green Bay Packers||4||6||1||0.409|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||4||7||0||0.364|
|New York Giants||3||8||0||0.273|
|San Francisco 49ers||2||9||0||0.182|