The wins for the Seahawks this weekend didn’t end on Thursday night, with their 27-24 victory over the Packers.
It continued into Sunday, as basically everything that the Seahawks could have asked to happen to help their playoff hopes around the NFL came to fruition as four teams they are competing against for a wild-card spot with all lost —Atlanta, Carolina, Philadelphia and Minnesota.
Several lost to teams Seattle has already beaten and has the tiebreaker on —Dallas beat the Falcons, Detroit beat the Panthers —while the Vikings lost to the Bears giving Chicago (a team Seattle has lost to) the upper hand in the NFC North. All were results favorable to the Seahawks. Seattle would rather Minnesota be in the wild card hunt since the Seahawks still play the Vikings, as opposed to the Bears, who would have the tiebreaker on Seattle.
That’s not to mention what was most important —Seattle beating the Packers.
The upshot is that the Seahawks remain just outside of the playoffs looking in as of Monday morning: seventh in the six-team NFC race.
The Saints, Rams, Bears and Washington would be the division winners as of today, with the Panthers and Vikings —at 6-4 and 5-4-1, respectively —the two wild card teams. Seattle is tied for seventh at 5-5 with Dallas, but has the tiebreaker on the Cowboys and the Packers, who are ninth, at 4-5-1. To reiterate, Seattle is now logically playing for only one of the two wild card spots (the fifth and sixth seeds, as the top four go to the four division winners) because the Rams have a big lead in the NFC West. As of Monday morning, the Rams are 3.5 games ahead of Seattle. Plus, they hold the tiebreaker.
But the point remains that Seattle can win its own way into the playoffs instead of needing help from anyone else. The Seahawks play the two teams ahead of them in the NFC standings —the Panthers Sunday and the Vikings in Seattle on Dec. 10 —over the next three weeks, and can get the tiebreakers on each of them.
According to the website FiveThirtyEight.com, Seattle’s playoff odds improved from 29 percent to 45 percent with the events of the last four days. (In comparison to where the Seahawks might have been with a loss, Green Bay’s playoff odds are now listed at 17 percent).
Seattle plays the Panthers this Sunday, with Carolina installed as an early 3.5-point favorite and at least one Panther, receiver Devin Funchess, indicating he doesn’t think Carolina has anything to worry about this week.
“I don’t know who we play next week,” Funchess was quoted as saying by the Charlotte Observer after Carolina’s 20-19 loss at Detroit, in which the Panthers went for two in the final seconds and were denied. “Whoever we play, we’re coming for you.”
Seattle and Carolina have a history of meeting at particularly key times over the past decade or so, having played three times in the playoffs since 2006 and six previous times in Pete Carroll’s nine years with Seattle.
The Seahawks are 5-1 in regular season games against Carolina, including three straight wins from 2012-14. The 2013 win was the season opener for the team that went on to win the Super Bowl, and that victory proved to have big playoff ramifications later, helping give Seattle homefield advantage throughout.
Carolina beat Seattle at Centurylink Field in 2015 and also won a playoff game against the Seahawks that same year in Charlotte.
About the only thing that didn’t go Seattle’s way was Washington’s loss to Houston, which threw Dallas into the NFC East title mix. Washington has a 6-4 record and does not play Seattle this year, and currently has a better conference mark at 6-2 compared to Seattle’s 4-3, so the Seahawks would rather Washington win that division and make Dallas a Wild Card contender because Seattle has beaten Dallas. But Washington is also now without starting QB Alex Smith, who suffered a broken leg and will be out for the rest of the season. Washington and Dallas play a suddenly critical game on Thanksgiving.
Seattle even got some help from the Chargers’ loss to Denver, which could pad Kansas City’s lead in the AFC West. If Kansas City wins Monday night against the Rams then KC will have a two-game lead in the AFC West, increasing the odds that the Chiefs won’t have anything substantial to play for when they come to Seattle on Dec. 23. Caveat: the Steelers, Patriots, Texans and Chargers all remain in range of getting the best record in the AFC, and that will be the real key for how KC will play things at the end of the season.
But yes, Seattle fans will actually want to root for the Rams on Monday night since the NFC West division race is logically over.
Seattle’s hopes of a wild-card spot, though, suddenly look the best they have in weeks.
Now for the real key to it all —beating Carolina on Sunday.