The Seahawks have won six of nine since an 0-2 start to move into prime playoff position.
The Seahawks are officially seventh in the NFC playoff picture after the games of Sunday (the only game left this weekend is an all-AFC Monday night matchup between Houston and Tennessee).
But the way some of the prediction sites see it, Seattle’s odds of making the playoffs are now better than any NFC team that isn’t currently a division leader.
To cite one, FiveThirtyEight.com gives Seattle a 75 percent chance to make the playoffs after the games of this weekend, which is actually behind only three other NFC teams — the Saints and Rams, each 10-1 and listed at 99 percent, and the Bears, who lead the NFC North at 8-3 and are listed at 96 percent.
After Seattle, the next-best NFC odds are Minnesota at 63 percent and NFC East leader Dallas at 60 percent.
No other NFC team is better than the 38 percent odds of Washington.
At the moment, though, Seattle is technically seventh in the NFC playoff standings, behind the four division leaders and Minnesota and Washington in the Wild Card hunt.
To reset the playoff picture, the top four NFC seeds as of Monday would be the four division leaders, seeded in this order — Saints, Rams, Bears and Cowboys.
The Vikings, who improved to 6-4-1 with a win over the Packers Sunday night, would be fifth.
Washington and Seattle are next, tied at 6-5.
But Washington for now has the edge in the conference games tiebreaker with a 6-3 record to Seattle’s 5-3. That comes into play since Seattle and Washington don’t play this season. Seattle has four conference games left — home and road against the 49ers and hosting Minnesota and Arizona — while Washington has three (next Monday night at the Eagles and then home to the Giants and Eagles with AFC games sandwiched around games at Jacksonville and Tennessee of the AFC).
Washington, though, will have to navigate that schedule with backup quarterback Colt McCoy, with Alex Smith out for the season.
But to set the stage for next weekend as simply as possible, if Seattle beats the 49ers at home and Washington loses at the Eagles, then Seattle would have at least the number six playoff spot.
The way the oddsmakers see it, though, the Seahawks should be the number five seed by the end of next weekend
While Seattle is an early 10-point favorite at home against the reeling 49ers, via VegasInsider.com, Washington is a seven-point underdog at Philly and Minnesota a 6.5-point underdog at New England. If those odds held, Seattle would be a half-game ahead of the Vikings and a full game ahead of Washington.
Then Seattle hosts the Vikings on the following Monday night. Should Seattle win that game, at that point Seattle’s odds of making the playoffs would probably be in the 90 percent range. After that, Minnesota finishes with a home game against Miami, a visit to Detroit and then a home game against the Bears.
As noted, 538.com gives Seattle better playoff odds than current NFC East leader Dallas. That’s in large part because Seattle has the head-to-head tiebreaker edge on the Cowboys, who currently are tied with Washington in the standings but have the edge on Washington in the NFC East due to a better record within the division. From Seattle’s perspective, all that matters is being no worse than tied with Dallas and then the Seahawks get the nod on the Cowboys.
But like Washington and the Vikings, the Cowboys are a big underdog next week, playing at home on Thursday night against the Saints, listed as an early seven-point favorite.
So should the point spreads hold, Seattle would have the fourth-best record in the NFC at the end of next weekend and in prime shape for a playoff spot.
Realistically, only two other NFC teams remain in playoff contention — Carolina, now 6-5 after the loss to Seattle and losers of three in a row, and the Eagles who are 5-6.
Carolina, which plays at Tampa Bay next Sunday, is given 31 percent odds to make the playoffs and the Eagles 25 percent by FiveThirtyEight.com.
But Seattle has the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Panthers and a two-game edge in the conference tiebreaker on the Eagles, who are 3-5 in the NFC.
And showing again how quickly fates can change, Green Bay is now given just a six percent chance to make the playoffs after falling to 4-6-1 Sunday night.
Those odds, at least, are just a tiny bit better than Atlanta, which less than two years after playing in the Super Bowl are 4-7 and listed at four percent.