Updating the Seahawks' playoff scenarios following Atlanta's win over Tampa Bay Monday night.
Not only did the Seahawks lose Sunday, but so did just about every team they needed help from to improve their playoff chances.
That trend continued into Monday night as Atlanta held on to beat Tampa Bay 24-21, which made it just a little bit harder for Seattle to reach the postseason.
In fact, one thing Atlanta’s win did is make crystal clear that the Seahawks must win at Dallas on Sunday or they would be eliminated from playoff contention. And then they must beat Arizona at home the following Sunday. But first things first.
Atlanta’s win Monday eliminated the last (admittedly remote) chance that Seattle could make the playoffs at 9-7 (a scenario in which Atlanta would have to finish 8-8).
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So it’s win or bust Sunday in Dallas.
According to 538.c0m, Atlanta’s win dropped the Seahawks’ odds to make the playoffs to 10 percent, their lowest of the season.
It would have been 20 percent had Atlanta lost and fallen to 8-6 and into a tie with Seattle, Detroit and Dallas.
Instead, the Falcons are 9-5 and in sole possession of the fifth spot in the NFC playoff standings at the end of Week 15.
Atlanta holds a head-to-head tiebreaker on Seattle, and one of the scenarios for Seattle to make the playoffs involves the Falcons losing two of their final three games. Now, that’s two of two.
Should the Seahawks win their final two games and get to 10-6, they would need one or more of the following things to happen to reach the postseason:
— Los Angeles to lose both its final two games — at Tennessee, then at home to the 49ers. That would give the Seahawks the NFC West title due to Seattle owning a better division record. And that would give Seattle a home game in the first weekend of the playoffs.
To earn a wild-card bid, Seattle needs to win its final two games and needs:
— Atlanta to lose both its final two games (at New Orleans, Carolina);
— And Detroit losing at least once (the Lions play at Cincinnati and host Green Bay, which placed quarterback Aaron Rodgers on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday).
In this scenario, Seattle would finish 10-6 and ahead of Atlanta and Detroit and be assured a playoff spot.
— Or Carolina to lose its last two (Tampa Bay, at Atlanta) or New Orleans losing its last two (Atlanta, at Tampa Bay) along with Detroit losing at least once (and it may be worth reiterating that Seattle finishing 2-0 eliminates Dallas by giving the Cowboys a seventh loss).
In this scenario, Atlanta would win the NFC South and Seattle would get the other wild-card spot with Carolina or New Orleans.
Seattle needs Detroit to lose because the Lions own a tiebreaker on Seattle due to a better record in common games.
Here is how the NFC playoff picture looks:
1, Philadelphia, 12-2
2, Minnesota, 11-3
3, Los Angeles, 10-4
4, New Orleans, 10-4 (Rams hold the tiebreaker on the Saints due to a head-to-head win)
5, Carolina, 10-4
6, Atlanta 9-5
7-8-9, Detroit, Seattle, Dallas 8-6 (Detroit wins the tiebreaker on both Seattle and Dallas due to a better conference record, and Seattle wins it over Dallas on higher strength of schedule).
What also happened Monday night is that Green Bay, which is 7-7, was eliminated, leaving seven teams battling for the final four spots (the Eagles and Vikings have each clinched playoff spots).
But to reiterate, nothing matters if Seattle doesn’t win its final two games. So worry about the rest of it at your own peril.