With five excruciating games left to complete, then somewhere between two and four more cover-your-eyes-and-switch-seats-on-the-couch playoff contests, the Seattle Seahawks have everything in their sights, good and bad.
As the second seed in the NFC, the only decent conference, they sit poised to move up a spot, down a spot, or tumble into the room-temperature purgatory of wild-card land. What we know is they won’t need any help to win the NFC West. If Seattle wins out, the division crown is assured. Even 4-1 will get it done, provided the 1 isn’t to the team chasing them in the standings, the Los Angeles McVays. Then again, 4-1 with a loss to the Rams could still result in a title as long as the Rams don’t win out.
So a little help, for the peace of mind, would be nice. Like in 2014, when five, yes, five NFC teams entered Week 17 with identical 11-4 records — Seattle, Green Bay, Arizona, Dallas and Detroit. (I swear I didn’t throw the Lions in there to make sure you were listening.) All the right teams won that weekend, all the right teams lost, the Seahawks secured the 1 seed, and the rest is unforgettable history, for better or for worse. Playing the NFCCG here instead of Lambeau mattered, probably.
Wouldn’t it be fun to root for the teams that could make something like that, with a slightly happier ending, happen again? To quote from an all-time great Christmas movie, yes is being my answer.
To that end, I’ve frankensteined a thing called the FaIR Factor. Which isn’t a 1990s reality show where contestants eat various food items on a stick. But totally should be. Instead it measures each remaining 2020 game, as it relates to the Seahawks’ playoff outlook.
F — Feasibility
a — and
I — Investment
R — Reward
A game where the most positive result is realistically feasible, and the reward is worth actual investment of your time and emotions, will grade higher. While we might like for the Rams to lose when they host the Patriots on December 10, it’s a long shot and will only score a middling 11 or 12 out of 20. Packers at Lions later in Week 14? Big FaIR Factor. But let’s not race too ahead of ourselves, even if that’s exactly what this column is about.
DET (4-7) at CHI (5-6), 10 a.m. Root for: Lions
The side benefit of rooting for the Lions is that maybe under new head coach Darrell Bevell (that happened), they begin to click like they didn’t under Matt Patricia and they give the Packers a real game later this month. Also that way you don’t have to support the Bears, who are hideous.
FaIR Factor: 5 for Feasibility and Investment. 2 for Reward. 7/20
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JAX (1-10) at MIN (5-6), 10 a.m. Root for: Jaguars
Don’t want to see the Vikings again in the playoffs, with Kirk Cousins playing like a bona fide Top 10 quarterback and how the Seahawks honestly should have lost in Week 5. Straightforward. Too bad the Jaguars aren’t gonna pull it off.
FaIR Factor: 2 for Feasibility and Investment. 4 for Reward. 6/20
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NO (9-2) at ATL (4-7), 10 a.m. Root for: Falcons
The quarterback quality gap is enormous in Atlanta’s favor, Alvin Kamara exists, and division games are often toss-ups. Anyone’s game. If you’re gonna watch any morning game, make it this one. And do some voodoo for the Falcons. This is exactly the kind of contest that can trip the Saints up and get the Seahawks into contention for that top seed.
FaIR Factor: 7 for Feasibility and Investment. 10 for Reward. 17/20
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LAR (7-4) at ARI (6-5) , 1:05 p.m. Root for: Cardinals
We want the Cardinals in this one, at least for now. Almost any game that opens up the possibility of clinching the division without having to beat the Rams in Week 16 is going to matter enormously.
Jared Goff isn’t on the hot seat but he’s also left the good graces of his coach. If the Arizona defense could harass him into three or four turnovers, the rest of the season could be something of a power struggle in LA. Which would be too bad, frankly. Nobody wants to see that.
FaIR Factor: 8 for Feasibility and Investment. 10 for Reward. 18/20
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PHI (3-7-1) at GB (8-3), 1:25 p.m. Root for: Eagles.
Do you like pulling for whoever is playing the Packers? Yes. Did you see how inept the Eagles offense was last Monday night? Also yes. There are not a lot of scenarios where Philly travels over to Green Bay and comes away with a win. Most of them involve special teams scores and various other wacky shit hitting the cheese fan. If the Eagles furnish the miracle, it’s a giant deal for Seattle’s bid to take over the 1 seed, because it means you’re a full game clear of the Packers, and with the tie-breaker in hand, chasing one team only, and that’s the Saints.
FaIR Factor: 2 for Feasibility and Investment. 9 for Reward. 11/20
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WAS (4-7) at PIT (11-0), 2:00 p.m. Monday. Root for: Steelers (huh?)
How can that be? For maximum chaos, the Fightin’ Washingtons should lose this game and create a situation where the first-place team in the NFC East is 4-8 and the last-place team is 3-8-1. Don’t want Washington to get any semblance of rhythm ahead of their meeting with Seattle in Week 15 anyway.
FaIR Factor: 2 for Feasibility and Investment. 2 for Reward. 4/20
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BUF (8-3) at SF (5-6), 5:15 p.m. Monday. Root for: Bills
Yes yes, yes yes, go Bills because rivalry reasons, but
doesn’t a small part of you want to see the 49ers creep back into the thick of the playoff picture and maybe bump the Buccaneers out nothing, never mind, go Bills. Break them. Facing George Kittle in the first round of the playoffs is not my idea of a fun time.
FaIR Factor: 7 for Feasibility and Investment. 4 for Reward. 11/20
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POSTSCRIPT: Cowboys (3-8) at Ravens (6-5), 5:05 p.m. Tuesday
Football on three consecutive days next week. 2020, man. Again, go Cowboys, go chaos, go make it happen, universe. Strong “who cares” vibes, however.
FaIR Factor: 3 for Feasibility and Investment. 1 for Reward. 4/20