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Week 14 was not kind to the Seahawks’ bye quest

Seahawks needed Niners to lose, or their own selves to pull out a win in LA — but they got neither

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Los Angeles Rams
yeah we’ve seen enough of that
Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

It was not a good weekend for the Seattle Seahawks’ playoff chase.

Oh sure, overall, they didn’t really put the postseason in jeopardy — their overall playoff odds at dropped from 99.7 to 98.9 percent.

But their quest for a first-round bye took a serious double hit, as they squandered a chance to effectively end the Los Angeles Rams’ season by losing (ugly) in LA, while the New Orleans Saints couldn’t hold on against the San Francisco 49ers.

Had the Saints taken care of the 49ers, or had Robbie Gould missed the last-second field goal, like he has been prone to, the Seahawks’ bye odds would have momentarily increased to a (rather nice) 69 percent. The first tweet below reflects conditions with New Orleans ahead and San Francisco facing a fourth and two in their own territory as time winds down:

Had Seattle then prevailed on Sunday night, and kept pace with San Fran at 11-2, the 1 seed was there for the taking. The loss cost them 24 percent bye odds, almost all of which was picked up by the Niners.

Because they prefer to do things the hard way, the Seahawks will now spend some time over in the corner as the 5 seed, while they think about what they’ve done. But to blame the victim a little, it’s our fault really: we should be used to their modus operandi by now.

All that being said, and the tears being shed, Seattle still sits pretty today, with three weeks to play. They haven’t whacked the pinata of their dreams hard enough for the guts to spill out. Win some games and the division title comes home. Win them all and that first-round bye is happening.

Playoff Odds, Week 15

Team Record Football Outsiders 538 Composite
Team Record Football Outsiders 538 Composite
NO 10-3 100 100 100
SF 11-2 99.9 99+ 99+
SEA 10-3 98.9 98 98.5
GB 10-3 92.6 93 92.8
MIN 9-4 80.8 71 75.9
DAL 6-7 66.4 51 58.7
PHI 6-7 33.6 49 41.3
LAR 8-5 23.4 36 29.7
CHI 7-6 4.5 2 3.3

The Rams trail the Vikings by a single game. Haven’t Minnesotans suffered enough? Come on, Jared Goff, throw a few more pick-sixes. You have all this practice now, seems a shame to waste it.

(OK PAUSE EVERYTHING. If you’d have told me on Sunday afternoon that Goff was going to throw two interceptions, one a pick-six and that Rasheem Green would block a short field goal, I would have counted on a Seahawks victory. I guess when the egg is going to lay itself, the hen can’t do much about it.)

On to the bye talk.

First-Round Bye Odds

Team Record Bye odds (FO)
Team Record Bye odds (FO)
NO 10-3 67.5
SF 11-2 63.6
SEA 10-3 35.3
GB 10-3 27
MIN 9-4 6.6

The Saints sit atop the list despite three losses because the Niners still have to play in Seattle. Like I said earlier, everything is still in play. A 13-3 Seahawks team might not get the 1 seed, but the 2 seed would be a hell of a consolation prize. More on that in a few.

With another week gone, get to make a table much like last time in this space, with WWWL and WLWW and LLLW scenarios — only now the list is much shorter. The Seahawks can win all three, two, just one or zero games the rest of this month. Let’s see where each of the eight paths takes us.

Scenarios for Weeks 15-17

Seahawks go... Final W-L (div.) NFCW champs? Probable seed Notes
Seahawks go... Final W-L (div.) NFCW champs? Probable seed Notes
WWW 13-3 (5-1) Yes 1* One NO loss would do it
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
LWW 12-4 (5-1) Possible 5** Champs if SF splits vs. ATL, LAR
WLW 12-4 (4-2) Possible 5 Champs if SF splits vs. ATL, LAR
WWL 12-4 (4-2) Very unlikely 5 Champs if SF swept by ATL, LAR
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
LLW 11-5 (4-2) Very unlikely 5 Champs if SF swept by ATL, LAR
LWL 11-5 (4-2) No 5 SF wins NFCW at 12-4
WLL 11-5 (3-3) No 5 Have tie-break over MIN, GB, LAR
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
LLL 10-6 (3-3) No 6*** LAR could go 11-5, CHI 10-6


* Finishing tied with New Orleans is no good. They have the head-to-head advantage. However, in a situation with the Packers also at 13-3, conference record sends the Saints to the 3 seed and then the Seahawks emerge with the 1 seed.

Also, it’s not like New Orleans has an easy path to 13-3. They host Indianapolis, then travel to the Tennessee, and finish with a road game in Carolina. It’s completely reasonable to expect a 2-1 result from that lineup. Seattle has two paths to the 1 seed, and if they have to settle for the 2 seed, yeah, that’ll do, pig.

** Suddenly the table is full of 5 seeds. What’s up with that? Well, since the 49ers won last week, the Seahawks need to either run the table or get help from the Falcons (ew) or the Rams (also ew) to take the division. Both visit Santa Clara before the season finale. Obviously, if neither ATL or LAR can manage a win, then the worst SF can do is 13-3. But if one of those lesser opponents can steal a victory, then it opens the door wide open for Seattle, which suddenly can take the West on a tie-breaker with a L-W-W or a W-L-W result.

But are the Niners going to lose either of those games? Are they, really?

*** Don’t drop all three games, you nitwits. Then you run the risk of being passed by the Rams or caught by the Bears, who must win out. The good news is that an 11-5 Seattle squad is well positioned to make the playoffs, and a 10-6 one is probably in as well. Again, the Greg Zuerlein miss in Seattle looms. It’s nice the Seahawks aren’t in third place in the division right now.

Playoff picture

This was prettier last week when the Seahawks were briefly the 2 seed.

Wild-card round

(6) Vikings at (3) Saints

(5) Seahawks at (4) Cowboys

We’ve joked on and off about a return trip to Dallas to “avenge” last year’s playoff misadventure. Well now, the chances of that hapening have drastically increased, and to boot, it’s conceivable the 12-4 Seahawks might have to travel to an 8-8 Cowboys team. We’d call that disgusting, except Beastquake never happens unless the Saints have to come here in 2010.

Divisional round

Best remaining seed at (2) Packers

Worst remaining seed at (1) 49ers

Team Tiers


49ers (11-2), Packers (10-3), Saints (10-3)

Is Green Bay for real? No, but when you’re in position to earn the 2 seed, you’re automatically a contender, no matter what. Again: I’d be a little shocked if they won the NFC, and I can’t wait to knock them down a notch next week or the week after, but my hands are tied here.

Need a Break or Two

Seahawks (10-3), Vikings (9-4), Rams (8-5)

Seahawks are also in position to capture the 2 seed. But they are going into battle “armed” with a gimpy Tyler Lockett, no TE1, no RB1 (Rashaad Penny’s been better and it’s not close), and an offensive line that pass protects like Swiss cheese, but without the cheese part. Russell Wilson’s been average for four weeks. They need a break in the form of no more offensive setbacks.

In Week 16, the Vikings host the Packers and the Rams trek over to the 49ers’ place. That’s the Sunday we get a few questions answered.

Maybe Next Year

Cowboys (6-7), Eagles (6-7), Bears (7-6)

Truth is, Philadelphia could lose in Week 15 then beat the Cowboys in Week 16 and then take the division at 8-8 with a timely victory in Week 17. But they’re not contenders even if they do that. Their paltry Super Bowl odds reflect that reality, at 0.4 percent, lower than the Buffalo Bills, who presumably would have to go through two of NE, KC and BAL plus the NFC champ.

For all the pixels darkened by dark words about the fate of the Seahawks this week, they still control most of their destiny, and three wins puts them right back in the championship conversation. I’ll leave you with Wilson’s words on leadership.