A week ago, I wrote an article that said, “Believe it or not, the Seahawks’ season isn’t over (despite the ugly record)”. That article was focused on how the Seahawks hadn’t really lost any ground between Week 7 and Week 10.
Many of you scoffed (as you should) while some thanked me for my optimism (which I appreciated). Today will likely be more of the same (which is fine).
Let’s start with the simple comparisons:
- Just as they were after both Week 7 and Week 10, the Seahawks are ahead of only the woeful Detroit Lions record-wise
- After Weeks 7 and 10, there were 11 teams with better records; now, there are 12
- Seattle was 1-1/2 games behind the 7-seed after Weeks 7 and 10; now Seattle is a full 2 games back
And let’s not overlook the obvious:
- The timeframe is shrinking (only 7 games remain); and
- The Seahawks’ margin for error is almost NIL
Realistically, Seattle needs to go 6-1 the rest of the way to have ANY shot at making the playoffs. Finishing with a 7-game win streak would undoubtedly be preferred but, for the sake of today’s article, let’s assume that Seattle goes 6-1 the rest of the way, finishes with a 9-8 record, and that their one loss is to either the Rams or the Cardinals.
Note: The rest of this article is going to look at the teams the Seahawks are chasing and what it would take for Seattle to catch (or pass) them.
The other 3-7 teams
Seattle hosts Chicago at Lumen Field the day after Christmas and odds are that they (Da Bears) will be completely out of the playoff hunt by then. Here’s why:
- The Bears are a bad, BAD team that has lost 5 straight games;
- Their starting QB may have broken some ribs last Sunday (current status TBD); and
- Even if they beat the Lions on Thanksgiving Day, the Bears face the Cardinals, Packers, and Vikings before heading to Seattle.
Having been blown out by the Bucs last weekend (30-10) and having just fired their Offensive Coordinator, the Giants are even more of a mess than the Seahawks.
I could point out that they lost to the Rams by 27 and the Cowboys by 22, but instead I’ll focus on the fact that they have 2 games remaining against the Philadelphia Eagles (11/28 and 12/26), plus a rematch with the Cowboys in Week 16.
If it takes a record of at least 9-8 to get into the playoffs, the Giants are probably cooked.
The teams that are currently 4-6
The Falcons 4 wins have come against the Giants (by 3), the Jets (by 7), the Dolphins (by 2), and the Saints (by 2). Their remaining schedule isn’t terrible, but 3 of their next 4 games are on the road (JAX, CAR, SF) with their only home game being a rematch with the Bucs (who spanked them in Week 2).
Whatever playoff hopes the Falcons have left come Christmastime could be buoyed when they host the woeful Lions in Week 16, but they close the season with a road game at Buffalo and a home game against the Saints.
Anyone see Atlanta getting to 9 wins?
Washington is currently riding a 2-game win streak after taking down the Bucs (by 10, at home) and the Panthers (by 6, on the road). Their other 2 wins have come against the Giants (by 1) and the Falcons (by 4).
After Seattle beats them on Sunday, the Washington What’s-Its travel to Vegas to play the Raiders. They then close their season with five straight division games: vs. Cowboys, at Eagles, at Cowboys, vs. Eagles, at NYG.
We can joke about the NFC Least all we like, but that’s just brutal - especially when the division isn’t terrible this year.
Long story short, the schedule-makers were NOT kind to Washington.
The duo at 5-6
The Panthers are another team the schedule-makers seem to have had a grudge against - with a similar result. Four of Carolina’s final five games are against division rivals with 2 of the 4 against the defending Super Bowl Champions, including a Week 18 game in Tampa Bay.
Oh, and just for grins, their lone non-division game in that span is a road game against the Buffalo Bills on December 19th.
Carolina started their season with 3 straight wins, but 2 of the 3 were against the Jets and Texans, both of whom are currently 2-8. They then dropped 4 straight games, 3 of them against the NFC East.
Naturally, they nailed the quad by losing to Washington last weekend.
The one thing working in Carolina’s favor is that they get their bye next week which means they’ll be well-rested for the gauntlet they finish the season with.
Oh, and they re-signed Superman.
(Too bad their schedule is akin to kryptonite.)
Of all the teams I am rooting against the next few weeks, the Eagles are currently atop the list - even though both the Saints and Vikings hold tiebreakers over the Seahawks.
- A month ago, Philly had the same abysmal record as Seattle, 2-up, 5-down
- The Eagles have gone 3-1 since then while Seattle has gone 1-2
- Philly’s next 5 games are at NYG, at NYJ, vs. WFT, vs. NYG, at WFT and the Eagles will likely be favored in all of those games
- Their hardest remaining game is Week 18 vs. Dallas; who knows if that game will even matter (from a playoffs perspective)
The good news (for Seattle) is that the Eagles are anther team the schedule makers shafted, with 5 of their last games being against division foes.
Worth noting: The Eagles’ wins have been against Atlanta, Carolina, Detroit, Denver, and New Orleans. They’ve lost to the 9ers, Cowboys, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Raiders, and Chargers.
The trio of .500 teams
If Seattle goes 6-1 (or 7-0) over the remainder of the season, the Niners shouldn’t be an issue. For starters, a win against them at Lumen Field next weekend would give us the season series meaning we only need to match their record to finish ahead of them in the standings. Then there’s their schedule.
- Week 12: vs. Vikings - as much as it will hurt, not rooting for the Vikings is probably the right call here.
- Week 13: at Seattle - go Hawks!
- Week 14: at Bengals - currently the AFC’s 5-seed
- Week 15: vs. Falcons - currently 4-6
- Week 16: at Titans - the AFC’s current 1-seed
- Week 17: vs. Texans - miracles do happen (Jets vs. Rams last year comes to mind)
- Week 18: at Rams - ain’t no good choices with this one; it’s the very definition of yuck vs. yuck
The Seahawks need to win the Week 13 matchup and then have the 9ers lose one more game than they do over the other 6 games.
That seems doable.
Unlike Seattle, the Saints aren’t getting QB1 back this season. And they just lost one of their Offensive Tackles for the rest of the year. Their defense is capable of keeping them in games, but their offense is a serious liability at this point.
Sort of like the Seahawks.
Since the Saints hold the head-to-head tiebreaker by virtue of their 13-10 victory at Lumen Field in Week 7, Seattle needs to finish ahead of them and, in the current scenario, that means the Saints would need to end the season with a losing record.
Is that possible? Absolutely!
When I look at their schedule, I see 3 probable losses over their next 4 games (vs. Bills this weekend, vs. Cowboys next weekend, and at Bucs on 12/19). Even with a win against the Jets in the middle of that span, the Saints could be 6-8 heading into Week 16.
If so, one more loss would drop them below .500.
Of all the games Seattle played before their bye, the Vikings game was easily their worst. And, from a score-perspective, it’s still the second-worst, even after the shutout the Seahawks suffered in Green Bay in Week 10.
That said, the Vikings may not finish above .500 if they lose this weekend - and that would obviously work in Seattle’s favor.
Here are their next 4 games: at the 49ers, at the Lions (who they beat 19-17 in Week 5), vs. the Steelers, and at the Bears.
Their final 3 games are: vs. the Rams, at the Packers, vs. the Bears.
Assuming they lose this weekend, a 9-8 record would seem to be their ceiling which means that one “extra” loss drops them below .500.
So you’re saying there’s a chance
Admittedly, almost everything has to go right for the Seahawks to have any shot at grabbing a playoff spot, and with only 13 points over the past 2 games, that seems like a gargantuan task.
Especially when you take into account the fact that Seattle started last season 5-0 and have gone 10-11 since then; 10-12 if the wildcard loss to the Rams is included.
And yet Seattle finds itself only 2 games out of a playoff spot with 7 games to play ... without many “true” contenders ahead of them ... and with at least a semi-realistic chance of closing the gap enough to make the final game(s) of the season “matter.”
Bottom line: Don’t give up yet. And don’t assume that Seattle will be one-and-done if they do make the playoffs. If the Seahawks win at least 6 of their final 7 games, they’d be one of the hottest teams in the league and an upset waiting to happen in the wildcard round.
Anything is possible.