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NFL Playoff Picture: Seahawks clinch wild card berth with win over Chiefs

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NFL: Kansas City Chiefs at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

The Seattle Seahawks are going back to the playoffs. For the seventh time in nine seasons under head coach Pete Carrol, and the sixth time in seven years with Russell Wilson at quarterback, the Seahawks will play after Week 17.

A week after losing to a San Francisco 49ers team that has been eying the number one pick in the draft, Seattle ended up beating a team that’s eyeing the number one seed in the AFC. The Seahawks beat the Kansas City Chiefs 38-31 and have secured themselves a wild card slot. The Chiefs also had a lot on the line as they were fighting to clinch the top spot in their conference, but now they must fight another day.

Not that Seattle’s position is totally decided yet.

At 9-6, the Seahawks can still drop to 9-7 if they lose to the Arizona Cardinals at home next week. If the Minnesota Vikings win their game against the Chicago Bears, they’ll improve to 9-6-1 and become the five seed. The first wild card will travel to face the Dallas Cowboys, while the six seed might have to go to the cold confines of the Chicago Bears. Seattle has played both of these teams, losing in Chicago in Week 2 and beating the Cowboys at home in Week 3.

Circumstances for all teams have changed notably since those games, but the Bears look like the much tougher matchup for a number of reasons. However, if Chicago beats the Vikings and the LA Rams lose to the 49ers, then the Bears become the two seed and the Rams will be hosting the six seed. It is very unlikely that the Seahawks will get their threematch against the Rams this soon, but it is possible.

The Chiefs will still be the one seed if they beat the Oakland Raiders at home next week, but if they suffer an unfathomable upset, they could lose the division to the LA Chargers if the Chargers beat the Denver Broncos.

The focus here though is on the Seahawks and they not only secured a trip to the postseason but did so with a signature win over a very good offense. The game was at home and Seattle will be on the road to open the playoffs, but even with backups and third stringers at multiple positions, they played much better than many expected. That’s a good sign for the coaching and the game plan as Carroll prepares to try and win a playoff game in January — something he’s done each time he’s led the Seahawks to the postseason.

Carroll also broke a tie with Mike Holmgren for most postseason appearances as the Seahawks head coach. Seattle went to the playoffs four times in the 23 years before Holmgren.