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Bye week: Mostly unkind to Seahawks playoff outlook

And an ultra-short bye week, at that. (Great for fans. Not so great for players.)

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at San Francisco 49ers
maybe don’t blitz next time eh
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

It was the best of byes; it was the worst of byes.

The best? An extra week to celebrate a victory in Santa Clara, the win of the year, maybe the Seattle Seahawks’ biggest win since 2016 in New England; an extra week to get better; an extra week to get Tyler Lockett back to something like full health.

The worst? Thanks for nothing, National Football League members. None of the right teams won (well, almost none) in Week 11, and to add insult to injury recovery time, the league office flexed Seahawks-Eagles out of Sunday Night Football.

The Seahawks’ two weeks off are now officially reduced to 12 days and 12 hours off, with both bookend games on the road. It’s literally impossible, within the confines of the scheduling rules, to make the bye week shorter. You can’t have a game later than Monday evening and you can’t have one earlier than 10 a.m. Pacific, plus you can’t make a team travel more than twice in two weeks.

But maybe the NFL will find a way next year.

Back to the games, all clearly rigged, because a good conspiracy theory doesn’t have to be plausible. The Arizona Cardinals blew a 16-point lead against the San Francisco 49ers, the Denver Broncos blew a 20-point lead against the Minnesota Vikings, while the Los Angeles Rams underwhelmingly skated past the Chicago Bears 17-7 at home in a prime time game you probably watched but wish you hadn’t. Boo, boo and boo.

So Seattle lost out on a chance to overtake the Niners in the West, lost out on a chance to gain a game in the wild-card, and lost out on a chance to speak at the Rams’ 2019 eulogy. Can we get a redo on Week 11?

No, but we can get improved playoff odds.

Playoff odds, Week 12

Team Record Playoff odds Last week NEW: bye odds
Team Record Playoff odds Last week NEW: bye odds
NO 8-2 99.1 3rd 64.4
SF 9-1 96.9 1st 50.7
GB 8-2 93.8 2nd 35.9
MIN 8-3 92.1 4th 21.3
SEA 8-2 87.4 5th 25.7
DAL 6-4 75.4 6th 1.7
PHI 5-5 37.2 7th 0.5
LAR 6-4 14.3 9th 0.4
CAR 5-5 1.9 8th 0

Two big takeaways, both involving our longtime NFC South frenemies: the Carolina Panthers’ home loss to the Atlanta Falcons cost them 15.7 percentage points of playoff odds, and the main beneficiaries were the New Orleans Saints, who now have a three-game division lead and a 99 percent chance to be playing in January.

(As always, while many outfits present playoff odds, only compute them with DVOA and DAVE, reliable advanced metrics that impact future win and loss predictions. See for yourself here.)

What’ s especially fun now, in the delayed wake of SEA 27, SF 24 is to see that the Seahawks could very easily be any of the playoff seeds. Yes, every seed from 1 to 6 is in realistic play. Happens when you’re 8-2.

Seahawks playoff seed probabilities, Week 12

Playoff seed Likelihood
Playoff seed Likelihood
5 31.2
6 18.1
2 13.7
1 12
3 9.7
4 2.6

The only landing spot in which it’s kinda hard to envision Seattle is the 4 seed, simply because in order to get there, they’d have to surpass San Francisco but not Dallas, Green Bay or New Orleans.

In other words, that’s the 49ers collapse scenario — a not altogether unpleasant one.

I’d like to draw attention to Seattle’s combined 25.7 percent chance of obtaining the 1 or 2 seed. Any realistic path to the Super Bowl begins with a bye. In one of every four simulations, the Seahawks have that advantage.

Seattle travels three times in the next four games. Trips to Philly, LA and Carolina await, and while those games looked forbidding at the start of the year, said opponents are 16-14 right now, with serious questions at quarterback for two of them. Meanwhile, the Seahawks are 5-0 on the road. A 2-2 split between now and Week 16 doesn’t sound at all out of the question, which would place Seattle at 10-4 with two home games left to close out the season.

Again, on the list of “would you have taken it before the season began,” 10-4 with a chance at 12-4 and maybe a bye is pretty high up there.

Game of the Week, non-Seahawks category

It’s a tie. (Teams could tie. Any of these games ending in a tie would be sumptuous.) Equal Game De La Week honors are split between GB visiting SF, a franchise which apparently doesn’t have to play road games anymore, and BAL visiting LAR. I’m sure the Rams defense is well equipped to stop Lamar Jackson from doing this:

and this:

and Jared Goff totally won’t throw any interceptions right at Earl Thomas, for old times’ sake.

Pertinent Playoff Picture

No change from last week, or the week before. But now that the NFC contenders are starting to face one another again, expect some movement.

Wild-card round

(5) Seattle at (4) Dallas

(6) Minnesota at (3) New Orleans

Divisional round

Worst remaining seed at (1) San Francisco

Best remaining seed at (2) Green Bay

The Green Bay Packers have a conference tie-breaker over the Saints. Go dome teams, especially if the Seahawks are going to be on the road for the postseason.

Team Tiers

Legit Contenders

49ers (9-1), Saints (8-2), Packers (8-2), Seahawks (8-2), Vikings (8-3)

One might say, any team that makes the NFC playoffs is automatically a legit contender. The conference is so deep, with five eight-win teams compared to two in the AFC. The Vikings’ passing attack is fearsome, the Saints and Packers have Hall of Fame quarterbacks, and while the 49ers haven’t looked the part of juggernaut this month, they did earlier.

Need a Break or Two

Rams (6-4), Dallas Cowboys (6-4)

They’re not the old Rams, the 2017 Sean McVay Ramvolutionaries, the 54-51 defeaters of Kansas City Chiefs, the erstwhile class of the NFC. They’re none of those things. They’re a fine team that could be a tough out in the playoffs, but being a game and a half out with six left means they’re probably staying home. Such a shame.

Cowboys have issues, but if they win the NFC East they’ll get a home game and maybe their opponent will come to Dallas with a bad game plan and then anything could happen. That’s two breaks, though. They probably need three to go anywhere special. Did you know? Dak Prescott leads the NFL in passing yards (3,221) and yards/attempt (8.8)? Now you know. He’s almost on par with Russell Wilson, statistically, and could challenge for MVP honors depending on how the final six games shake out. I’m dead serious.

Next Loss Stings

Philadelphia Eagles (5-5)

Realistically, the Eagles are out of everything if their sixth loss arrives at the hands of the Road Warriors Seahawks on Sunday. Important fact: Seattle is 1-1 against bird teams this season. (EDIT: actually 2-1, even though multiple internet sources told me at the time the win in Atlanta didn't fully count, with the Falcons being bad.)

Goose/Turkey Is Cooked

Last week this space was occupied by the Bears and Detroit Lions, who remain forked after adding even more losses. Now they’re joined by the Panthers, a 5-5 team that doesn’t have a quarterback, a component you’d like for a playoff push.

We’re down to eight teams that have a shot. A Seahawks win coupled with a Rams loss would probably trim the list to seven, with LA hanging on by the tip of a horn. After a week where nothing went right for the home team, we’re owed a turn of good fortune, right?