Seattle Seahawks News: The NFC Playoff Picture Comes Into Focus


Just a few weeks ago, it appeared that the Seattle Seahawks were an inexplicable longshot to make the playoffs. Since the season’s low point, the ‘Hawks have rattled off three straight wins to climb back into a respectable position. With the regular season winding down, they’ve improved their playoff odds while giving themselves a legitimate shot at first place in the NFC West.

With three games to play, the Seahawks currently stand at 9-4, second place in the West behind the 10-3 Arizona Cardinals. These two teams, of course, are scheduled to meet once more before the season’s end. That December 21st game may well decide the division, but the ‘Hawks will first have to get through the 49ers again, then withstand the Rams in week 17.

Just based on this alone, it becomes clear how detrimental even a single additional loss could be. But that’s before examining the rest of the conference, where the Seahawks are far from the only team with a 9-4 record. In the East, the Eagles and Cowboys sit atop the division with nine wins and four losses each. And the second place Lions are 9-4 in the North.

Complicating things is that a terrible NFC South team will make the playoffs because hey, someone’s gotta represent the new worst division of all time, right? It’d be easier to complain about a sub-.500 team making the playoffs if Seattle hadn’t been the beneficiaries of such luck a few years back. So one of the six NFC postseason teams is going to have to come from the South, and they’re going to suck, because all four of those teams suck. So there’s five spots up for grabs.

Each of the three professional-grade divisions in the NFC boasts two legitimate contenders. In the west the 49ers are toeing the line, but at this point will certainly need a good deal of luck to sneak into the postseason. Barring multiple late collapses from their competitors and an unexpected surge from themselves, San Francisco probably won’t see playoff action this season. No complaints here.

So that leaves Arizona, Seattle, Dallas, Philadelphia, Green Bay, and Detroit fighting for five spots. The Packers and Cardinals have ten wins each, and the other four teams are at nine apiece. This is a close race with the potential to stay close all the way to the line.

Who will grab the top seed? Arizona and Green Bay have the early lead, and Green Bay is probably the favorites given their favorable schedule the rest of the way. They have to play Detroit, but they also get to play Tampa Bay and Buffalo. Yeah, the Packers are probably favorites for the top seed.

But Arizona and Seattle have a shot if the Pack slips up. Again, it comes down to that week 16 matchup. If the ‘Hawks win out and the Packers lose one more game, Seattle would claim the top seed by virtue of their head-to-head win over Green Bay in week one. Yup, even after all the crazy that has been this season, the Seahawks have a relatively clear path to the top of the league.

The Rams play a fascinating role in all of this, as they’ve been death to top teams this year and have a chance to play heartbreaker to either of the Seahawks or Cardinals. Or both! They’ve shown with their recent play that they’re a much, much better team than they looked like early in the season. The NFC West mostly plays itself the rest of the way, and so it’s going to be a power struggle down to the last minute.

Philadelphia only plays one more high-quality opponent the rest of the way, and you guessed it, it’s Dallas. The Cowboys have to get through the Colts as well as the Eagles, so Philly’s favored to take the division. Detroit has perhaps the most work to do to get to the top of their division, and thus are the longest shot out of all the probable contenders.

Things are tight at the top of the NFC with three games to go. The Seahawks could wind up with the number one overall seed, or they could find themselves at home when the postseason begins. This should be a wild ride.