The Seahawks saw their chances of making the playoffs drop markedly with Sunday's blowout loss to the Rams. But Seattle still has chances to both win the division and earn a wildcard spot.
It might seem after Sunday’s 42-7 loss that the Seahawks don’t even deserve to win the NFC West or make the playoffs.
But despite the enormity of Sunday’s defeat, Seattle still has chances of doing each — even if each is pretty remote.
In fact, other than the Chargers, no team in the NFL saw their playoff chances dip like the Seahawks did this weekend.
The website FiveThirtyEight.c0m assessed Seattle as having a 57 percent chance of making the playoffs and 45 percent to win the division before Sunday.
After? Just 13 percent and two percent.
The scenario for winning the division is simple — if unlikely.
Seattle has to win its final two games — at Dallas and at home against Arizona — while the Rams lose their final two at Tennessee and at home against the 49ers.
If that happened each team would be 10-6 and Seattle would get the nod due to a better division record.
That sounds like a lot to ask for, hence 538.com’s assessment that there’s a 2 percent chance of it happening. But then, you never know.
Other scenarios for making the playoffs as a wildcard are more complicated and all involve other teams losing, meaning that, yep, the Seahawks no longer control their own destiny, which might have been the biggest thing the Seahawks lost on Sunday.
With Sunday’s loss Seattle fell to 8-6 and to the No. 8 position on the NFC playoff ladder — only the top six make it.
Seattle is tied with Detroit at 8-6 but the Lions have the tiebreaker due to a better record in common games (which isn’t going to change at this point). The Seahawks are also behind Atlanta, no matter what the Falcons do on Monday night against Tampa Bay.
Here is how the playoff picture looks as of Sunday night:
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 8-5
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).
10, Green Bay, 7-7 (Packers are not eliminated though their chances are really remote. In fact, Green Bay is eliminated with any win by Atlanta in the Falcons’ last three games).
What hurts Seattle greatly is the loss to Atlanta, which gives the Falcons a head-to-head tiebreaker on Seattle.
Atlanta plays at Tampa Bay Monday night and can improve to 9-5 and mean that Seattle would have to win both of its final two games and Atlanta lose both of its last two games for the Seahawks to move ahead of the Falcons.
The good news? Atlanta plays a tough schedule, playing at New Orleans and then hosting Carolina. But that latter game means that either Atlanta or Carolina will win one more game — which is the same with the Atlanta-New Orleans game. In other words, there’s a lot of things that have to happen for the Seahawks to have a chance.
Seattle would also lose out to Detroit on the common games tiebreaker so Seattle needs the Lions to lose either at the Bengals or at home to a Green Bay team that may have nothing to play for on the final weekend.
And it hardly needs to be stated that Seattle would lose in every way imaginable if it loses to Dallas on Sunday. At that point, the Cowboys would move a game ahead of the Seahawks and would hold the head-to-head tiebreaker.
What Seattle mostly has to do first is worry about winning both of its final two games and then hoping other things break right (basically, root for Atlanta, Detroit and the Rams to lose).
And logically, Seattle is in a three-way battle for the final playoff spot with Dallas and Detroit (Dallas plays at Philly the final weekend but that game is pretty much irrelevant since if the Cowboys beat the Seahawks Sunday they hold the tiebreaker).
There’s no scenario where Seattle can clinch a playoff berth next week, which would have been the case had Seattle won Sunday against the Rams.
Here are the relevant games for Seattle next weekend:
Seattle at Dallas (the Cowboys are an early 2.5 point favorite)
Detroit at Cincinnati (the Lions are an early 3.5-point favorite against a team that seems in disarray)
Rams at Tennessee (Los Angeles is a 6.5-point favorite against a Tennessee team that just lost to the 49ers but remains in the playoff hunt at 8-6)
Tampa Bay at Carolina (Panthers are a 9.5 point favorite against a Bucs team that will be coming off a short week)
Atlanta at New Orleans (Saints installed as an early 6-point favorite)
As the above standings also show, Seattle either pulls off the 2 percent shot of winning the NFC West, which would logically give it the number four seed, or it gets the last wildcard spot, which would mean a first weekend trip to probably one of Minnesota, Los Angeles or New Orleans.
In other words, probably no home playoff home game and no bye and a really tough road to do much of anything in the playoffs.
But right now, all the Seahawks want to do is try to get there, however improbable that might seem.