Saturday's loss to Arizona cost Seattle control of its own destiny for the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs. Seattle now needs a win at San Francisco Sunday coupled with at least one loss each by Atlanta and Detroit to get the second seed.

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For a regular season game for a team that has already won a division title, Saturday’s Seahawks’ loss to Arizona was about as costly as a loss can be.

Specifically, the game knocked Seattle out of the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs and meant that the Seahawks no longer control their own destiny to get the No. 2 seed.

That’s important because that would mean not getting a bye in the wild card round and would also mean that if Seattle wins in the wild card round it would have to go on the road in the divisional round. The top two seeds each get byes in the wild card round and then a home game in the divisional round. The only three times Seattle has advanced to the Super Bowl it has done so by being a No. 1 seed and getting a bye and then winning two home games.

Prior to Saturday, all Seattle needed was to win its final two games and it would have the No. 2 seed in the NFC playoffs .

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Seattle can still get it, but the Seahawks now need three things to occur to get that done; 1, a win at San Francisco next Sunday; 2, a loss by the Falcons at home to the Saints on Sunday; 3, and at least one loss by Detroit in one of its next two games — the Lions play at Dallas on Monday night and then host Green Bay next Sunday night.

That Detroit has yet to play is why the Seahawks are officially considered as the No. 4 seed as this is written.

To recap the NFC situation:

  • Dallas has the No. 1 seed already wrapped up.
  • Atlanta, which is now 10-5 and has already clinched the NFC South, is currently the No. 2 seed.
  • Detroit, 9-5 before playing Dallas Monday, is the No. 3.
  • Seattle, 9-5-1, is the No. 4.
  • The New York Giants, at 10-5, have clinched the No. 5 seed no matter what happens in the final weekend (recall that while the Giants could finish with a better record than Seattle, only the division winners get the top four seeds). As the No. 5 seed, the Giants are assured of playing on the road against the No. 4 seed in the wild card round, which could well be Seattle.
  • Green Bay (9-6), Detroit, Tampa Bay and Washington could all still end up as the No. 6 seed. Green Bay and Detroit will play next Sunday for the NFC North title and the loser of that game could be the No. 6 seed. But scenarios remain where Tampa Bay (8-7) and Washington (8-6-1) could still get into the playoffs as the number six seed, as well.

One tricky part of this for Seattle is that it has to prepare this week as if the 49ers’ game will have a lot of potential  meaning, because Seahawks-49ers and Falcons-Saints will kick off at the same time on Sunday (the Atlanta-New Orleans game was originally set for the 10 a.m. Seattle time slot but was flexed to the 1:25 p.m. time slot on Sunday, undoubtedly to increase the drama some).

If the Seahawks end up playing in the first round, they could play either the Giants, Packers, Lions, Washington or Bucs in the wild-card round at CenturyLink Field.

As noted, Seattle also needs the Lions to lose at last once to get the two seed.

If Detroit beats Dallas Monday night, then the Seahawks would need the Lions to lose to Green Bay, a game that on Sunday was flexed to the Sunday night spot, meaning the Seahawks wouldn’t know their playoff seeding until late Sunday.

The way the Vegas oddsmakers see it, the Seahawks may not have much to play for, with Atlanta already installed as a 6.5-point favorite against the Saints.

Atlanta won at New Orleans the third week of the season, 45-32, and has been on a roll lately, winning its last three games against the Rams, 49ers and Panthers by a combined 116-43.

But as the Seahawks showed again Saturday, lots of strange things can happen.

Seattle will undoubtedly take the approach this week of putting its head down to prepare for the 49ers and letting the rest take care of itself.