RENTON — Maybe you’re like the Seahawks themselves and figured they would have already cemented their NFC playoff seeding by now.
But after last week’s 17-10 loss to Arizona, you’re wondering exactly what Seattle has to do to win the NFC West and secure home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Or, maybe, after watching last week, you’re feeling pessimistic and wondering what happens if the Seahawks lose again Sunday to the St. Louis Rams.
Well, you’ve come to the right place. We’re here to lay out all of the scenarios for the Seahawks.
It’s a little complicated, but keep in mind two simple things: 1) Seattle has the best record in the NFC at 12-3 and has secured at least a wild-card playoff spot; 2) Seattle will be either the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs or the No. 5 seed.
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No. 1 with a win
• How it happens: As long as Seattle beats (or ties) the Rams in Sunday’s 1:25 p.m. game at CenturyLink Field, then the Seahawks win the NFC West and get the NFC’s No. 1 seed in the playoffs, a bye in the first weekend, and home field for any other NFC playoff games.
This will be the third time in four weeks Seattle has had this same scenario — it could also have clinched the NFC West and home-field advantage at San Francisco (a 19-17 loss) or last week. So, yes, the Seahawks are hoping the third time is a charm.
• Who they’d play: The Seahawks would have to wait a week to find out. As a No. 1 seed, Seattle would play the lowest surviving seed from the wild-card round. As of Thursday, it would be either the Bears (now No. 4 as NFC North leader at 8-7), the 49ers (at 11-4, assured of at least a wild-card spot and today would be the No. 5 seed) or the Saints (at 10-5, now the second wild card and No. 6 seed).
• When they’d play: Jan. 11 or 12.
No. 1 with a loss
• How it happens: If Seattle loses to the Rams, the Seahawks would still win the NFC West and the NFC’s No. 1 seed if the 49ers lose (or tie) at Arizona, a game that also begins at 1:25 p.m.
If Seattle and the 49ers each lose, the Seahawks could finish tied with Carolina (which plays at Atlanta) at 12-4. But the Seahawks would get the No. 1 seed due to having beaten the Panthers 12-7 in their opener. Who knew then that result might carry such meaning?
• Who they’d play: Same as the “win and in” scenario, Seattle would play the lowest surviving wild-card seed.
• When they’d play: Jan. 11 or 12.
No. 5 with a loss
How it happens: If Seattle loses and the 49ers win Sunday, the 49ers would win the NFC West and the Seahawks would fall to the fifth seed. The four division winners get the top four seeds and host games in the wild-card and divisional rounds (that’s how the 7-9 Seahawks hosted an 11-5 New Orleans team in 2011).
If the Seahawks lose, they would be 12-4 and assured of having a better record than the other wild-card teams. The 49ers would have the same record. The first tiebreaker is head-to-head, but the two teams split their two regular-season meetings. The next tiebreaker is division record, and the 49ers would get the nod there (the 49ers would be 5-1 in the division, and the Seahawks 3-3).
• Who they’d play: The Seahawks would hit the road against either Dallas, Chicago or Green Bay.
• When they’d play: Jan. 4 or 5.