Seattle would play at Dallas in the Wild Card round of the NFC Playoffs if the season ended today.
Monday night capped a two-week period in which things could hardly have gone better for the Seattle Seahawks when it came to their playoff chances.
Consider that when the Seahawks began preparations for their game against Carolina heading into week 12, their playoff chances were listed at 45 percent by 538.com.
As of Monday night, following the Eagles’ 28-13 win over Washington, Seattle’s odds were up to 88 percent.
And should Seattle win Monday night against the Vikings at CenturyLink Field? Then the odds increase to 98 percent, per 538.com.
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Seattle began the weekend in the number seven spot in the NFC. But Seattle’s 43-16 win over the 49ere coupled with Minnesota’s loss to New England (as well as the fact that as long as the Seahawks won Sunday they were going to move ahead of whoever finished the weekend second in the NFC East) moved the Seahawks to the number five spot.
That means that if the season ended today, the Seahawks would play at Dallas in the Wild Card round of the playoffs. If they won that, they would then travel to play either the Los Angeles Rams (who currently have the one seed) or the New Orleans Saints (who have the two). As of today, the Bears would host the Vikings in the other Wild Card game.
Seattle’s outlook rose so drastically since Thanksgiving Day thanks to two wins of its own and results in just about every other NFC game that were the most favorable for the Seahawks.
That included Monday night. Seattle’s odds, per 538,com, improved two percent with Philly’s win — the Seahawks were at 86 percent before that game. That’s because the defeat made Washington 6-6 and dropped them behind the Seahawks at 7-5. Washington loomed as a little bit of a potential problem for Seattle because the two teams don’t play and Washington had a better conference record heading into the day. But Washington doesn’t anymore, also falling to 6-4 in conference (Seattle is 6-3), dropping its playoff odds to 26 percent, via 538.com (and yes, I realize Washington’s QB situation means the odds of Washington staying in the playoff hunt were long. But the math was what it was).
In fact, due to faceplants by Green Bay, Washington and Carolina over the last two weeks, the playoff picture in the NFC has gone from apparent chaos to seeming clarity.
Consider that as of Monday night, there are six teams in the NFC with playoff odds of better than 60 percent (division leaders Rams, Saints, Bears and Cowboys, and Wild Card leaders Seahawks and Vikings) and no one else with better playoff odds than 28 percent (the Eagles, who have won two in a row to get to 6-6 and are the defending Super Bowl champs, but also finish with three of the last four on the road, including games against Dallas and the Rams, with the only home game against the surging Houston Texans).
And in case you need reminding, six teams make the playoffs in each conference.
At this point, because of losses by others and Seattle’s favorable situation in tiebreakers with most contenders (specifically, head-to-head edges on Carolina and Dallas and conference game edges on the Eagles and Washington), all the Seahawks may logically have to do is win two more games. Go to any of the playoff simulators and Seattle’s odds of getting in the playoffs at 9-7 are in the high 90 percent.
Not that the Seahawks will want to hear any of that — as Seattle has experienced in a good way the last two weeks, things can change quickly and drastically in either direction in the NFL.
But at this point, simply beating the 49ers on the road and the Cardinals at home in the regular season finale might well be enough — barring a lot of other chaos elsewhere — to get get the Seahawks in the playoffs. The New York Times playoff simulator gives the Seahawks a 99 percent chance to make the playoffs with just those two wins.
Maybe not quite enough to buy playoff tickets just yet. But maybe good enough to make a deposit.