The playoff picture for the Seattle Seahawks looks increasingly clear after Sunday's win at Baltimore
Funny how piling up the wins continues to put a brighter outlook on a team’s playoff picture.
That’s how it is for the Seattle Seahawks, who in a month have gone from longshots to make the playoffs to suddenly now almost a certainty for the post-season.
Consider that the web site fivethirtyeight.com now gives the Seahawks a 98 percent chance of making the playoffs following Sunday’s 35-6 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Seattle’s fourth straight victory.
As noted earlier, the win moves Seattle into the No. 5 spot in the NFC playoffs. And as also noted earlier, all Seattle has to do now is win out to secure the No. 5 spot (or maybe just win the next two games, which we’ll explain in a minute).
The only sort of bad news is that winning the NFC West remains a longshot — fivethirtyeight.com gives the Seahawks a 5 percent chance of pulling that off as Seattle remains three games back with three to go (we’ll review those possibilities in a minute as well).
What that means is that the overwhelming odds are Seattle gets into the playoffs as the No. 5 seed. Seattle is tied with the Vikings at 8-5 for that spot but holds the tiebreaker due to the head-to-head win last week. The Vikings also have what looms as a tougher schedule than Seattle the rest of the way with games remaining at home against the Bears and Giants and then at the Packers — the Vikings would have to finish a game ahead of Seattle to knock the Seahawks to the sixth seed.
What that also means is that the Seahawks can actually potentially clinch the No. 5 seed just by winning the next two home games against the Browns and Rams (a three-team scenario could complicate things, but a two-team tie with the Vikings at that point would mean the Seahawks would already be in before the final weekend).
The odds of Seattle clinching before the final weekend increased greatly Sunday with losses by Tampa Bay and Atlanta, which dropped each to 6-7 and means the Seahawks and Vikings have a two-game lead on the rest of the field in the NFC for the Wild Card spots.
If the season were to end today (we know it doesn’t, but bear with us) the Seahawks would play at No. 4 seed Washington in the Wild Card round. Washington is 6-7 and tied with the Eagles but continues to hold the NFC East lead due to an earlier win over Philadelphia.
The NFC East picture, though, figures to fluctuate quite a bit the next few weeks with each team playing a few divisional games the rest of the way. Washington and the Eagles play on Dec.26, a game that could well decide the NFC East and where the Seahawks will go in the Wild Card round. Washington’s division record at the moment also gives it a leg up on the 5-7 Giants,who play Miami Monday night.
And to reiterate another point, being the No. 5 seed is a heck of a lot better than being No. 6 and almost certainly having to go to Green Bay.
As we wrote a few days ago, when it comes to the NFC West, all Seattle can do now is hope that Arizona loses its last three while the Seahawks win their final three to force a tie at 11-5.
However, at that point the tiebreakers would likely favor Arizona.
Under that scenario, Arizona would lose to the Eagles, Green Bay and Seattle to get to 11-5 while the Seahawks would beat Cleveland, St. Louis and Arizona to also get to 11-5.
That would mean the two teams would be tied in each of the first four two-team tiebreakers — head-to-head, division record (they would each be 4-2), common games (they would each be 10-4 since each would have gone 1-1 in their only two uncommon games with Arizona splitting with the Saints and Eagles and the Seahawks splitting with the Cowboys and Panthers), and conference record (they would each be 8-4).
At that point, it would go to strength of victory, and that favors the Cardinals, whose two wins against teams other than those that Seattle also defeated would be the Saints and Bengals, who are a combined 15-11, while the two teams the Seahawks beat that the Cardinals would not have beaten are the Cowboys and Steelers, a combined 12-14 (the margin of this did not change with Sunday’s games with each of the two teams’ non-common pairs splitting their games).
So yes, the Seahawks are likely going on the road to start the playoffs. The best news at this point is there almost certainly will be a playoffs for Seattle.