5 Games the Seattle Seahawks Have to Win to Make the Playoffs

John ZielonkaContributor IIJuly 31, 2012

5 Games the Seattle Seahawks Have to Win to Make the Playoffs

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    The Seattle Seahawks 2012 schedule includes four 2011 playoff teams, (Green Bay, New England, San Francisco and Detroit), four with a .500 record (Arizona, Dallas, New York Jets and Chicago) and five with losing records (St. Louis, Carolina, Minnesota, Miami and Buffalo).

    In my original predictions, I felt the Seahawks would finish with a 7-9 record. With San Francisco the clear favorite in the NFC West, Seattle’s best chance of returning to the playoffs would be as a wild card.

    Last year, a 10-6 record in the NFC was needed to compete in the postseason.  For the Seahawks to gain a spot in the Super Bowl tournament, I converted five of the 2012 projected defeats—Arizona, Carolina, Detroit, Buffalo and San Francisco—into victories. 

    Four games are on the road. The other contest is at home against the 49ers. Seattle finished the 2011 season with a 4-4 record at home and 3-5 on the road.

    Each meeting provides an intriguing quarterback matchup against rising stars, a reborn signal caller and similar to Seattle's situation, multiple players vying for the top slot behind the ball snapper. 

Week 1: Arizona Cardinals

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    Seattle kicks off the season in the Arizona desert. This first game could see new quarterbacks at the helm for both teams.

    The Seahawks battle is between Tarvaris Jackson and former Green Bay protégé Matt Flynn. The Cardinals have Kevin Kolb and John Skelton engaged in their own skirmish for the job.

    The teams split their season series last year with wins at home. A road victory early in the season could provide the impetus needed for a Seahawks playoff run.  

Week 5: Carolina Panthers

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    Four weeks later, the Seahawks travel east for a game against the NFL’s brightest second-year quarterback, Cam Newton.

    The former Auburn player set a rookie record by throwing for over 4,000 yards. 

    He’ll give the visitors all they can handle. Newton will be motivated to improve on last year’s 6-10 record.

Week 8: Detroit Lions

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    The Lions finally found their winning mojo and returned to the playoffs for the first time since 1999.

    Quarterback Matthew Stafford now has the Lions competing for the top spot in the NFC North. 

    Should they prevail, it would be Seattle’s marquee road win of the year.

Week 14: Buffalo Bills

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    Ryan Fitzpatrick signed a large contract after the Bills were 4-2. His performance declined unexpectedly and the Bills finished at 6-10. 

    This mid-December encounter in Buffalo could hinge on Fitzpatrick's ability to rebound from a poor post-contract malaise and Seattle’s ability to play in wintry conditions.

Week 16: San Francisco

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    The 49ers swept the season series on the back of a rejuvenated Alex Smith. 

    Head coach Jim Harbaugh worked his magic with the beleaguered quarterback that saw San Francisco breeze to a 13-3 record. 

    It’s the next-to-last home game in Seattle. The "12th Man" will be in full force with a potential playoff slot on the line.