The experts are having a field day scoffing and laughing at the mild, mild NFC West. They're joking about those 7-7 Seahawks leading the division. They're wondering aloud how a...

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The experts are having a field day scoffing and laughing at the mild, mild NFC West.

They’re joking about those 7-7 Seahawks leading the division. They’re wondering aloud how a team deserves to make the postseason with a .500 or less winning percentage, which is a distinct possibility. They go so far as to say the division doesn’t deserve a postseason berth.

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren can only shrug his shoulders.

“The guys that write the most are the guys that picked us to go to the Super Bowl, which I thought was a bit of a stretch in training camp,” Holmgren said. “But I liked the excitement it generated. Now it hasn’t worked and so they get their feathers ruffled and all of a sudden they like to do that.”

Holmgren is aware of all of the expectations placed on his Seahawks, with their high-octane offense and 3-0 start. Those expectations haven’t been met, but the Seahawks find themselves one win and one St. Louis loss away from the division title and just one win away from a wild-card spot.

The playoff picture

If the Seahawks beat Arizona on Sunday, they’re in the playoffs, clinching at least a wild-card spot. If they win and St. Louis loses to Philadelphia on Monday night, they will wrap up the NFC West. If the Seahawks lose Sunday … well, then tiebreakers come into play, and that wouldn’t be good news for the Hawks.
NFC West Record
Seattle 7-7
St. Louis 6-8
Arizona 5-9
San Francisco 2-12

Remaining schedules:

Seattle — Sunday, vs. Arizona; Jan. 2, vs. Atlanta.

St. Louis — Monday, vs. Philadelphia; Jan. 2, vs. New York Jets.

Arizona — Sunday, at Seattle; Jan. 2, vs. Tampa Bay.

Division, two-team tie: The Seahawks could finish in a tie with St. Louis at 8-8 or 7-9, or with Arizona at 7-9. In either case, the Seahawks would be out, because they would be 0-2 this season against either team.

Division, three-team tie: If Seattle, St. Louis and Arizona each finish at 7-9, the Seahawks would be eliminated because of their 0-2 records against each of the other teams. St. Louis and Arizona split games this season, so the next step would be record within the division, and St. Louis, at 5-1, would advance.

Wildcard: If the Seahawks win either of their final two games, they’re assured of a wild-card spot. If they lose both, and finish at 7-9, things get a little trickier. One of the wild-card spots would go to Green Bay or Minnesota, and the Seahawks’ chances of getting the second NFC wildcard would depend on who else finished 7-9.

“You’re a little uphill if you’ve got to play the wild-card game and those things,” Holmgren said. “But getting into the playoffs in this league is not like other leagues where everybody gets in. It’s an accomplishment. I’m not going to apologize to anybody. I’ll apologize to my own players for calling a play I called against Dallas or something. I’ll do that, but I’m not going to apologize to anybody if we get in.”

Asked if he feels the Seahawks can make a good run in the playoffs if they can win a game and get in, free safety Ken Hamlin was more than optimistic.

“Regardless of what our record is, we get into the playoffs and our record is going to be 0-0, (same) for everybody,” Hamlin said. “So we have to get ready to play.”

Brown plays hurt

Wherever Chad Brown goes, pain and injury are almost certain to follow.

A broken bone in his foot in 2002. A broken leg and torn cartilage in a knee this year. And now, more pain in that right foot, which he hurt in Sunday’s game.

“It indirectly had something to do with his previous injury, but it wasn’t the same injury that he had surgery for,” Holmgren said. “Our feeling is that he won’t be able to practice too much but he’ll be able to play in the game.”

As in this Sunday’s game at Arizona, where Brown will be needed as the Seahawks’ defense struggles to find a way to limit opponents.

Voters high on Shaun

If running back Shaun Alexander is selected to the Pro Bowl, as is expected, he’ll have done it the best way — being voted in by fans, players and coaches.

Alexander made the NFC all-star squad last season as an alternate and got to play in the game. This season, he was the top vote-getter among fans at his position, and finished fifth overall among all NFC players in fan votes with 804,172.

Players and coaches voted Monday and yesterday. The Pro Bowl teams will be announced this afternoon.

Alexander has already established a new career high in rushing yards with 1,462 this season.


• WR Darrell Jackson needs 58 receiving yards for a season best. He has 1,080. He also needs 87 yards to reach 5,000 in his career, and four catches to pass Brian Blades as the season all-time Seahawks leader with 82, which would surpass Blades’ mark of 81 in 1994.