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One realistic scenario that could see the Seahawks clinch the #1 seed before 49ers rematch

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NFL: Minnesota Vikings at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Under Russell Wilson, the Seattle Seahawks have never had a functionally “meaningless” Week 17 game. The previous seven seasons have involved some form of playoff implications, whether through clinching the NFC West and/or pursuing a first-round bye, getting into the playoffs outright, or looking at wild card seeding.

Could 2019 finally be an exception to the rule? Unlikely, but it’s not impossible.

John Fraley — one of the 174 people named “John” on the Field Gulls staff — posted an excellent breakdown of Seattle’s playoff scenarios, but I just wanted to tack on something of importance.

Right now, the Seahawks sit at 10-2 and in a tie for 1st place in the division with the San Francisco 49ers, but Seattle has the tiebreaker. They do not have the #1 seed tiebreaker over the New Orleans Saints, who beat them in Week 3. Also in the running for the #1 seed are the 9-3 Green Bay Packers, but we’ll get to them later.

To quickly summarize, here’s the one specific but best route to the Seahawks securing the top spot before Christmas Day.

Seahawks: Win next three games (at Rams, at Panthers, vs. Cardinals)

49ers: Defeat the Saints in Week 14, lose to the Rams in Week 16

Saints: Lose to the 49ers and one of the Colts (home, Week 15) or Titans (away, Week 16)

Here would be your Week 16 standings under these circumstances:

Seahawks: 13-2
49ers: 12-3
Saints: 11-4

NFC West race OVER. #1 seed CLINCHED.

Now you may be wondering why I specified the Los Angeles Rams beating the 49ers and left out the Atlanta Falcons. Well for starters, the Falcons aren’t going to win so that’s silly, but the next tiebreaker after head-to-head is divisional records. If the Rams beat the 49ers, the Niners would be 3-2 to Seattle’s 5-0. That ends the NFC West race right there.

The Saints being two back of Seattle with a game to go is self-explanatory. If the Seahawks win their next three games, we need to see New Orleans take two losses of any sort, but having the 49ers beat them (gulp) at least gives the Seahawks a lead over the Saints.

So where do the Packers come into play? Well they kinda don’t. Seattle just needs to be a game ahead of Green Bay entering Week 17 and the Pack can’t catch up in a division race. If the Seahawks and Packers both finish with the same record, then Seattle wins on the “common games” tiebreaker. Under my scenario, Seattle would’ve beaten San Francisco, Philadelphia, and Minnesota, and will have beaten Carolina. Green Bay beat the Panthers and Vikings but they have lost to both the 49ers and Eagles, and the Vikings are the only common opponent they have left on their schedule.

Obviously the big problem with this scenario is that we have to “root” for the 49ers to win on Sunday — let’s just say cheer for the Saints to lose — but Seattle has a tiebreaker on them that they do not have with New Orleans. Besides, what is more likely: Saints beat the 49ers and then drop two straight to the Colts and Titans, or the Saints lose to the 49ers and then once more to either Indy or Tennessee? I thought so.

Am I getting ahead of myself in this dreamland where the Seahawks keep on winning? Yeah! I’m really tempting fate! This could all unravel if Los Angeles beats Seattle on Sunday night and suddenly the Seahawks would either be back in 2nd place or a game behind the Saints. But one can dream, can they not? That’s what the playoff machine is for!