The events of the weekend in the NFL have Seattle on the outside looking in to the NFC playoffs.
It’s a good thing the NFL season doesn’t end today because if it did, the Seahawks would be out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
Sunday’s 30-24 loss at Jacksonville, combined with wins by Carolina and Atlanta, means that Seattle fell to the No. 7 spot in the NFC standings.
The Seahawks are tied for having the sixth best record in the NFC with Atlanta at 8-5. But the Falcons would get the nod in a two-team tie due to their win over the Seahawks last month.
Of course, Seattle has a simple remedy to fix this — beat the 9-4 Rams next Sunday at CenturyLink Field.
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If the Seahawks beat the Rams, they will move to the No. 4 spot in the NFC playoff picture next week by virtue of holding the tiebreaker on Los Angeles (a win would give Seattle a sweep of the season series with the Seahawks already having won in LA 16-10 in October). Seattle can’t move to No. 4 as the Saints hold a common-games tiebreaker on the Seahawks.
A loss to the Rams wouldn’t eliminate Seattle from winning the division even though it would drop the Seahawks two games back with two to play.
In that scenario, if Seattle won its final two games (at Dallas, vs. Arizona) while the Rams lost their final two (at Tennessee, vs. 49ers) then Seattle would win the division based on having a better divisional record (5-1 vs. 4-2).
But Sunday’s loss made things more difficult for Seattle to land a wildcard spot should the division not work out.
According to fivethirtyeight.com Seattle’s odds of simply making the playoffs dropped from 80 percent to 58 percent after the games of week 14.
Not only did Atlanta win to move back ahead of Seattle, but Dallas, Detroit and Green Bay also all win to get to 7-6 and tighten the race behind the Seahawks. And remember that Green Bay has a head-to-head tiebreaker on the Seahawks and Dallas still hosts Seattle in two weeks and can get it.
The loss also means that Seattle can just about kiss any chance of a top-two seed and a first-round bye goodbye: 538.com lists those as chances infinitesimal with the Eagles at 99 percent and the Vikings at 83 percent to get the top two seeds in the NFC. Not getting a first-round bye means a high probability of just one home playoff game and having to win two on the road to get to the Super Bowl.
The three times Seattle has advanced to the playoffs it had homefield advantage and needed to win just two home playoff games to get to the Super Bowl.
On that cheery note, here’s a look at the current NFC playoff picture:
1, Philadelphia, 11-2
2, Minnesota, 10-3
3, Los Angeles Rams, 9-4
4, New Orleans Saints, 9-4 (Rams hold the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Saints).
5, Carolina, 9-4 (the Saints beat the Panthers twice this year and will hold the head-to-head tiebreaker)
6, Atlanta, 8-5 (hold head-to-head tiebreaker on Seattle)
7, Seattle, 8-5.
8-9-10, Detroit, Green Bay and Dallas in that order).
The Week 15 schedule brings with it a lot of games that will impact the playoffs.
Here is who the NFC teams in the playoff picture play this week:
Philadelphia at New York Giants: The Eagles are an early 9.5 point favorite, but that could change if Carson Wentz is truly out for the season with an ACL injury
Cincinnati at Minnesota: NFC teams shouldn’t count on the Bengals to offer any help this week.
Rams at Seattle: Seahawks listed as an early 2.5-point favorite.
New York Jets at New Orleans: Saints get what looks like a breather after the tough Thursday night loss to Atlanta.
Green Bay at Carolina: Will Aaron Rodgers be back for the Packers? That’s the hope in Green Bay.
Atlanta at Tampa Bay: Falcons looking for a Monday night win to set up an NFC South showdown at New Orleans on Christmas Eve.
Chicago at Detroit: Lions keep hanging around and are a touchdown favorite to get to 8-6 against beleaguered Bears.
Dallas at Oakland: Cowboys hoping to get one last win without Ezekiel Elliott, who will return for Christmas Eve game against Seattle that could have a lot of meaning.