Ever since the schedule came out, 12s have had Weeks 12 through 15 circled as “the gauntlet” that will decide the Seattle Seahawks’ fate.
- Week 12: Vs. San Francisco 49ers
- Week 13: At Dallas Cowboys
- Week 14: At San Francisco 49ers
- Week 15: Vs. Philadelphia Eagles
But what if we were wrong?
I’m not saying that Weeks 12 through 15 won’t be difficult. Those 3 teams are currently either 5-1 (Eagles and Niners) or 4-2 (Dallas). Their combined record is 14-4 . . . 19-5 if you count the Niners twice.
But . . .
It’s probably a mistake to not start “the gauntlet” a week earlier since we face the Los Angeles Rams (in Inglewood) in Week 11 and, as we all know, they thoroughly embarrassed the Seahawks in the first game of the season. They also currently sit just half a game behind us in the standings at 3-3.
Yes, the Niners, Cowboys, and Eagles are better than the Rams, Ravens, and Browns (even though the Ravens and Cowboys have the same record right now, and even though the Browns just beat the Niners), but that doesn’t make the games leading up to the SF-DAL-SF-PHI gauntlet any easier.
Besides, no one knows what anyone’s record is going to be 6 games from now. For all we know, the Week 12 matchup could feature the 8-2 Seahawks vs. the 5-5 Niners - it won’t, but it could.
The same goes for the Eagles who, yes, are 5-1, but if you’ve watched their games, you’d know that they have an even greater ability than the Seahawks to play down to the level of their competition.
Bottom line: After Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle has eight straight games against teams that are currently .500 or better.
Better buckle up!
Interestingly, it’s not just the Seahawks who have a “brutal” stretch starting a few weeks from now.
Note: Brutal is in quotes because the 5-1 Eagles, 5-1 Niners, and 4-2 Cowboys may not feel that the 3-2 Seahawks qualify as a “brutal” matchup at this point. For the sake of argument though, let’s assume they do since they almost certainly would have if Seattle had beaten the Cincinnati Bengals and were currently 4-1.
- November 30th, vs. Seattle Seahawks
- December 10th, vs. Philadelphia Eagles
- December 17th, at Buffalo Bills
- December 24th, at Miami Dolphins
- December 30th, vs. Detroit Lions
- November 5th, vs. Dallas Cowboys
- November 20th, at Kansas City Chiefs
- November 26th, vs. Buffalo Bills
- December 3rd, vs. San Francisco 49ers
- December 10th, at Dallas Cowboys
- December 17th, at Seattle Seahawks
- November 23rd, at Seattle Seahawks
- December 3rd, at Philadelphia Eagles
- December 10th, vs. Seattle Seahawks
Obviously, the Niners have the lightest challenge with only 3 brutal games in a row; two of which are against the Seahawks.
I thought about including the two games before the Niners’ Seattle-Philly-Seattle stretch since they play at Jacksonville vs. the Jaguars (currently 5-2) and then host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (3-2).
Both teams are currently above .500 and both teams currently lead their division.
But . . .
A) The Niners play the Jaguars before the Bucs; and
B) I don’t see the Bucs as a “brutal” game for the 9ers given that Tampa Bay’s two losses were to the Philadelphia Eagles (25-11) and Detroit Lions (20-6) while their wins were against the Minnesota Vikings (20-17), Chicago Bears (27-17), and New Orleans Saints (26-9).
Likewise, I could have included the Niners’ Christmas Day game versus the Ravens, but San Francisco plays Arizona the week before that so . . . ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Note: Santa Clara’s Christmas Day game kicks off at 5:15pm which makes it a Christmas Day Night game (which is kind of a fun thing to say).
It’s worth noting that I didn’t include the 5-1 Lions in the “brutal stretch” list, above, because they do not have a brutal stretch.
Here are Detroit’s remaining games with each team’s current record in brackets: At Baltimore Ravens (4-2); vs. Las Vegas Raiders (3-3); at Los Angeles Chargers (2-4); vs. Chicago Bears (1-5); vs. Green Bay Packers (2-3); at New Orleans Saints (3-4); at Chicago Bears (1-5); vs. Denver Broncos (1-5); at Minnesota Vikings (2-4); at Dallas Cowboys (4-2); vs. Minnesota Vikings (2-4).
Looking at that extremely non-daunting schedule, I’ve got to believe that the Detroit Lions currently have the inside track on “earning” the NFC’s top seed.
That said, Seattle does have the head-to-head tiebreaker against them . . .