Well here we are! We’re hitting the home stretch of the 2020 NFL season and the Seattle Seahawks are in one hell of a battle for both the NFC West crown and the #1 seed. That means in addition to Seattle taking care of business, we need some things to break in Seattle’s favor because while they can win the NFC West by winning out, they can’t get the #1 seed without help.
NFC Playoff Standings
1.) New Orleans Saints (8-2)
2.) Los Angeles Rams (7-3)
3.) Green Bay Packers (7-3)
4.) Washington Football Team (4-7)
5.) Seattle Seahawks (7-3)
6.) Tampa Bay Buccaneers (7-4)
7.) Arizona Cardinals (6-4)
So now it’s rooting guide time! But with three scenarios to protect us at every level in case something goes wrong.
For the division: San Francisco 49ers (at Los Angeles Rams), New England Patriots (vs. Arizona Cardinals)
This is pretty straightforward. The 49ers are really banged up and their schedule is too tough for anyone to believe they can go from 4-6 into a playoff spot. But they are our (gulp) allies for at least this weekend. The Rams lead the division so San Francisco pulling off the upset benefits Seattle both for overall record but also giving LA another divisional loss.
As for the Cardinals, they’re on the road against the New England Patriots and much like the 49ers, they have too many injuries (and in New England’s case, COVID opt-outs) for anyone to believe they’ll be back in the postseason. A New England win means the Seahawks can extend their lead over Arizona to two games if they win on Monday.
For the #1 seed: Denver Broncos (vs. New Orleans Saints), Chicago Bears (at Green Bay Packers)
The Saints will be without Drew Brees, Terron Armstead, and Andreas Peat for this tricky road trip to Denver. Unfortunately a Seahawks win + Saints loss does not put Seattle above them in a tiebreaker scenario, as New Orleans has a better conference record than the Seahawks. An AFC loss isn’t damaging for tiebreaker reasons if you’re New Orleans, but a loss is a loss and Seattle could use some help from their former AFC West rivals.
As for the Bears... they’re unwatchable. I mean the defense is watchable but the offense is inept. Nick Foles is out and Mitchell Trubisky is back to provide Chicago with an inaccurate mobile QB instead of an immobile inaccurate QB. Anyway, a Packers loss means the Seahawks can go above them in the standings with a win, and Green Bay would have a worse conference record. There’s also this to think about down the line, courtesy of former Field Gulls film analyst Matty F. Brown:
The Packers L versus the Vikings is significant. It's 1 of the 4 common games Seattle has with Green Bay— Matty F. Brown (@mattyfbrown) November 23, 2020
V Vikings (Packers L, Seahawks W)
Falcons (W W)
@ 49ers (Packers W, Seattle TBD)
The Seahawks should keep winning. My original tweet is based off NFL Redzone
For the #5 seed: Kansas City Chiefs (at Tampa Bay Buccaneers)
This is the worst case scenario where the Seahawks, who will make the playoffs barring some catastrophic event, don’t win the division but can still get that coveted “get to play one of those bad NFC East teams” wild card spot. I mean this is what happened to the Seahawks last year but it’s more pronounced this year.
The Buccaneers didn’t do us a solid against the Los Angeles Rams, and this is their last real difficult matchup of the regular season. If they lose here (very possible against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City juggernaut) and drop to 7-5, it gives the Seahawks some wiggle room for hanging onto the #5 seed “safety net.” Tampa Bay is just 4-4 against NFC opponents, so the Seahawks hold that tiebreaker too.
My worry of course is that it’s been ten years since the Seahawks won the NFC West with a sub .500 record, only to pull off a stunning upset of the heavily favored #5 seed. I’d like to not have a “what goes around, comes around” scenario where our jubilation from back then turns into embarrassment in the future.
In summation: Go Patriots, Broncos, Bears, Chiefs, and Not Rams!