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Seahawks playoff picture: The good, the bad, and the no parity

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About that fabled parity..: where is it?

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Seattle Seahawks
grab that playoff positioning
Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Despite what you may have read online since Sunday, winning in overtime against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was a good idea by the Seattle Seahawks. No NFC team increased their playoff odds more last weekend than the Seahawks, who boosted their chances 9.5 percent.

As always, the postseason odds in this column are courtesy of footballoutsiders.com. There are a lot of places to find playoff probabilities, but since the folks at FO build in DVOA and DAVE to their simulation, I find it superior to other sources’ numbers.

Week 10 FO Playoff Odds

Team Playoff odds Playoff odds Last Week
Team Playoff odds Playoff odds Last Week
SF 8-0 98.6 1st
NO 8-1 97.1 2nd
GB 7-2 84.1 3rd
DAL 5-3 77 5th
MIN 6-3 69 4th
SEA 7-2 63.4 6th
PHI 5-4 39 7th
LAR 6-3 34.9 8th
CAR 5-3 25.8 9th
DET 7.4 7.4 10th

It might be a little strange to see the 7-2 Seahawks still sixth on the chart, behind the 6-3 Minnesota Vikings and the 5-3 Dallas Cowboys, but since Seattle still has two dates with the last undefeated team in football, they’re getting a little dinged for the schedule. To simplify: the Cowboys are being given a better chance of winning the NFC East than the Seahawks have of holding off all the teams on their tail.

As this column theorized three weeks ago, it’s looking like the kind of season where 10 wins might not be enough to make the playoffs anyway because of how top-heavy the conference is. Lars Russell kindly did some of my legwork for me, thanks dude:

Given the gaudy records at the top of the league, with all the six- and seven-win teams out there, and given that there are some putrid franchises playing smelly football right now, it’s pretty fair to say that the NFL’s obsession with parity is taking a hit in 2019. Five teams with one win or less, this late in the year? Ouch. (Dolphins, Jets, Bengals, Skins and Falcons by the way. Just wait until Week 16, when that MIA-CIN must-see game comes to a screen near you.)

Since we’re still waiting on the playoff machine to emerge from hibernation, please play out the rest of the NFC season with me real quick, and you’ll see what I mean about 10 wins.

A) SEA goes 3-4, losing to SF twice, MIN and LAR. Finishes 10-6.

B) MIN goes 4-3, beating SEA as stated then splitting the rest Finishes 10-6.

C) LAR goes 4-3, beating SEA. Also finishes 10-6.

D) CAR goes 5-3, losing to SEA. Finishes 10-6 to join the party.

No stretch to think that the Vikings, who are currently riding a 112-passer-rating season from Kirk Cousins, will win four out of seven. Including the Monday night game in Seattle. Why not? It’s not like the Seahawks can contain any passing offense right now. Likewise, no reason to think the Rams, who have won many games the last two seasons and probably should be ahead of Seattle right now (BUT ARE NOT! KICKERS MATTER), can’t copy the Vikings step for step. If the Panthers can complete half a season at 5-3 without Cam Newton, and keep Christian McCaffrey healthy, they’re a perfectly reasonable candidate for 10-6 as well.

In the resulting logjam, the Seahawks’ 2-2 record against common opponents and 8-4 conference record doesn’t necessarily get them to the postseason. You’re gonna want that 11th victory. (Or 12th, just to be extra safe and brand-appropriate.)

Although, as long as teams chasing Seattle keep losing... Just last weekend, the Vikings fell to the Pat Mahomes-less Chiefs on a last-second field goal, because some teams still make those. Week 10 puts other NFC teams in disadvantageous situations. The Vikings visit the Cowboys and Panthers visit the Packers. The Rams travel across the country to meet the Steelers, who are suddenly 4-4 and right in the thick of the AFC wild-card chase, a game out of the 6 seed. Loser of that game is in for a long week.

Premature Playoff Picture, Perhaps

Or the playoff picture is no longer premature! I mean, it’s November and teams are playing themselves out of the postseason. Each win and each loss now feels like it counts double, and not just in our hearts.

Wild-card round

(5) Seattle at (4) Dallas

(6) Minnesota at (3) Green Bay

This is the third straight week that the wild-card round matchups are unchanged. But with the Panthers, Eagles and Rams all knocking on the door, and the Seahawks primed for a loss in what might be their toughest assignment of the season, I wouldn’t expect it to hold much longer.

Divisional round

Better remaining seed at (2) New Orleans

Worse remaining seed at (1) San Francisco

A Seattle victory in the Bay Area paired with a Saints home win over the sorry Falcons would change the hierarchy.

Team Tiers

Legit Contenders

49ers (8-0), Saints (8-1), Packers (7-2)

Need a Break or Two

Seahawks (7-2), Vikings (6-3), Dallas Cowboys (5-3), Los Angeles Rams (6-3)

Next Loss Stings

Carolina Panthers (5-3), Philadelphia Eagles (5-4)

Goose Just Got Cooked

Detroit Lions (3-4-1), Arizona Cardinals (3-5-1), Chicago Bears (3-5)

The last three teams, which were all in the thick of things at .500 two weeks ago, now need seven more wins in their second half of the season to have a chance. Not a single one of these teams is rattling off seven wins. Don’t dirty a fork sticking it in them; they’re already done.

The interesting thing this week, of course, is with the Monday night game, Seahawks fans will know a lot more about the playoff picture before kickoff. All the chief wild-card rivals are on the road. It’s not hard to imagine the Rams faltering, and/or the Vikings losing, and/or the Panthers looking terrible. Should Seattle fall to 7-3, it’ll suck to wave good-bye to the division, but maybe no ground will be lost.