The Seattle Seahawks are inching closer to a return to the NFC playoffs.
After a disappointing 24-21 loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Seahawks are still hanging on to the sixth playoff spot. The Hawks hold an advantage over Tampa Bay and Minnesota courtesy of their conference record and head-to-head record, respectively.
It is unlikely for the Seahawks to leapfrog the Green Bay Packers, although Seattle holds the advantage after their victory in Week 3.
The main reason Seattle will solidify their playoff berth is because of their schedule at the end of the season. With winnable games remaining against Arizona and Buffalo, the Seahawks must be ready to win some games if they want a playoff spot.
They also have home games against two divisional opponents in San Francisco and St. Louis to finish the season.
Those games could ultimately decide their fate.
Luckily, the 'Hawks are undefeated at home this season and seem to play at a different level in front of their home fans.
Furthermore, Seattle’s competition for a Wild Card berth seem to have much more imposing schedules.
Tampa Bay for instance, still has away games remaining against Denver, New Orleans and Atlanta. Perhaps, Atlanta will be resting their starters in their Week 17 matchup, but I expect it to still be a bitter division battle.
As for Minnesota, they still have four games remaining against current playoff teams. With two games remaining against Green Bay, as well as Chicago and Houston, the Vikings have quite the gauntlet to finish the year.
Nonetheless, Seattle travels to Chicago at a fortunate time as the Bears are riddled with injuries. Devin Hester, Matt Forte and Charles Tillman were all injured in Chicago’s previous game against Minnesota. Tillman is being pegged as the defensive player of the year and Seattle will enter Chicago amongst numerous question marks.
But Seattle has their own issues.
The anchors of Seattle's pass defense, cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner were both reportedly caught with performance-enhancing drugs and could face four-game suspensions.
Both players will appeal and should be eligible for Sunday’s game, but without those two for the end of the season the Seahawks could be in trouble.
Obviously with both starting cornerbacks absent, Seattle would be a very different team—one that would not make the playoffs.
With three teams bearing down on them for a playoff spot in Dallas, Washington and New Orleans, the Seahawks must be ready to fight for a playoff berth. All three of those teams are currently 5-6 and based off schedules alone, it looks as if Dallas has the best chance to climb back into the playoffs.
It will all come down to winning games down the stretch, and with three home games remaining, the Seahawks will make the playoffs with a 9-7 record.
They will most likely remain in the sixth spot. Many teams will be looking to knock them off, but as of right now, I don’t see it happening.