We all need to decompress after witnessing consecutive overtime thrillers involving the Seattle Seahawks, so this is a welcome bye week.
In the meantime, there’s still plenty at stake as it concerns the Seahawks’ playoff hopes. As far as I’m concerned, we need the best of both worlds. Seattle is currently the #5 seed with six games to go, but they are within touching distance of 1st place in the NFC West. There is a dream scenario where the Seahawks are not only ahead of the San Francisco 49ers on the head-to-head tiebreaker, but they’re also three games clear of whichever team is 7th in the playoff standings.
Here’s your Week 11 rooting guide for Sunday.
Your best friends (for a weekend)
Arizona Cardinals (3-6-1) at San Francisco 49ers (8-1) - 1:05 PM PT
The Cardinals are not a good team, but they’re better than they were last season. They gave San Francisco all they could handle just two weeks ago, losing only 28-25. If Arizona wins, then the Seahawks lead the NFC West for the first time since October 2017. Kyler Murray is here to help Seattle!
Matt Nagy’s game of “hide your quarterback” has turned into “let your quarterback show himself to be as incompetent as possible.” Mitchell Trubisky is unlikely to cause much trouble against the Rams defense, but the Bears defense is still among the best in the NFL. The Rams offense is banged up and coming off a game in which the defense outscored the offense 9-3. If the Rams lose, they drop to 5-5 and are all but out of the NFC West race at the very least. The Bears would improve to 5-5 but they’re probably not going to go on a run for a wild card berth.
The Saints are guaranteed to remain atop the NFC South regardless of what happenes this weekend, but in the interest of tiebreakers, the Seahawks have a loss to New Orleans, so having an identical record with them is a no-no. Tampa Bay has beaten the Los Angeles Rams in LA, nearly beat the Seahawks in Seattle, and were reasonably competitive with the 49ers on opening day. They’re a 3-6 team and are dead last in points allowed, yet their point differential is only -19. Raymond James Stadium has historically been a tough place to play for Drew Brees and company, so don’t be surprised if New Orleans struggles again. Would New Orleans dare lose consecutive games to the bottom of the division? Can’t rule it out, especially since their point differential is only +22, one point better than the Seahawks.
A Vikings loss guarantees that the Seahawks will be ahead of Minnesota in the win-loss column by at least one game when they play each other on Monday Night Football on December 2nd. Denver’s offense is probably not going to do anything against Minnesota, but the Broncos quietly have the 6th best defense by DVOA, so this may be more competitive than you think.
Nice to haves
Detroit is starting Jeff Driskel due to Matthew Stafford’s injuries, which is so unfortunate given how well Stafford has played. It’s really fun when the Cowboys lose, and they’ve already lost to the New York Jets, so an upset cannot be ruled out. By the way, did you know Kenny Golladay leads the NFL in touchdown catches?
Dan Quinn came out of the bye week and shocked the New Orleans Saints in their stadium, holding Drew Brees out of the end zone at the Superdome for the first time ever. Carolina is a mediocre team with a curiously awful run defense. Christian McCaffrey is the only enjoyable aspect of watching the Panthers at the moment, and they almost certainly won’t be able to get into the playoffs by winning the division. An upset loss to Atlanta would damage their wild card hopes and also put them three back of the Seahawks, four weeks out from their Week 15 showdown.
Okay, this is merely to get all of the 5-4 teams to 5-5, but I’m not going to really make a strong argument in favor of rooting FOR the New England Patriots.
The NFC playoff standings under the best case scenario
1.) Green Bay Packers (8-2)
2.) Seattle Seahawks (8-2)
3.) New Orleans Saints (7-3)
4.) Dallas Cowboys (5-5)
5.) San Francisco 49ers (8-2)
6.) Minnesota Vikings (7-4)
7-10.) Los Angeles Rams, Philadelphia Eagles, Chicago Bears, Carolina Panthers (5-5)
Green Bay (also not playing this weekend) would have the tiebreaker on Seattle because of superior strength of victory, so they’d be the #1 seed over the Seahawks entering Week 12. Seattle would be a game ahead of New Orleans, three clear of Dallas, 1.5 ahead of the #6 seeded Vikings, and three games beyond the next four non-playoff teams. That’s about as favorable as it can get for the Seahawks’ playoff chances and provides them a safety net should bad things happen.
In summary, go Cardinals, Bears, Buccaneers, Broncos, Lions, Falcons, and not Eagles!