Depending on the outcome of the games between the Green Bay Packers and Minnesota Vikings as well as the game between the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals, the Seahawks could end up with the second, third or fifth seed.
There are three more games on the schedule that could determine who the Seahawks play in the first round. Not only do each of these games provide an interest from the perspective of Seahawks fans, but they also have interesting story lines for any NFL fan.
Why it matters: A lot has to happen for this game to affect the Seahawks in the short term, but the potential is there for the Chicago Bears to visit Seattle in the first round of the playoffs. If Seattle beats St. Louis, Green Bay defeats Minnesota, New York falls to Philadelphia and San Francisco loses to Arizona, then the Seahawks would face the Bears at CenturyLink next weekend. If the Seahawks get the fifth seed, then whoever gets the sixth seed will determine who Seattle fans will be rooting for to make it to the NFC Championship game.
Another reason to watch: If the Bears don’t make the playoffs, it would be a spectacular implosion by what looked like a team destined to make the playoffs at 7-1. They’ve since gone 2-6, including the loss at home to the Seahawks. Calvin Johnson will have an opportunity to add to his 1,892 receiving yards and push the record mark over 2,000 yards.
Prediction: The Detroit Lions haven’t won a game since they played the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 9 and were the team that allowed the Cardinals to snap their losing streak. The Lions have had some tough breaks this year and have been in several close games, so it’s fair to expect it to continue. Chicago wins by a field goal, 20-17.
Why it matters: The New York Giants could manage to slip into the postseason with the win over the Philadelphia Eagles and losses by the Vikings and Bears. If the Seahawks are able to get the third seed, they could be facing the Giants in the wild-card game.
Another reason to watch: Every year it seems like the Giants are the team that flips a switch in December to make a deep run into the playoffs. That just hasn’t happened this year. With Michael Vick coming back to start this week, he could make this a watchable division rivalry game.
Prediction: Andy Reid’s resemblance to Mike Holmgren is something that people are always commenting on. It would be all too perfect for Reid to have the same 4-12 record that Holmgren had in his last year with the Seahawks. The Giants win 23-13, but drop out of the playoffs with the Chicago win. Those of us outside of the New York area will have to avoid the national media and all the talk about how both teams failed to live up to expectations.
Why it matters: The Seahawks need the Packers to lose this game in combination with a 49ers loss and a Seattle win. If all that can happen, the Seahawks would have a first-round bye and Packers fans would have another reason to complain about the referees calling dual possession on Golden Tate's touchdown catch in Week 3.
Another reason to watch: Everyone's focus will be on whether or not Adrian Peterson can break Eric Dickerson's single-season rushing mark of 2,105 yards. The Packers rushing defense is ranked 14th in the league, but they’ve already given up 210 yards to him once this season. If the Packers win, they earn a first-round bye. If the Vikings win, they’ll be in the playoffs as the sixth seed. On top of that, this is a huge division rivalry, so it’s sure to be a great game.
Prediction: The Vikings are a hot team right now. Perhaps it’s my bias that I also really want them to win, but I think this game showcases just how important it will be to have a good field goal kicker to win in the playoffs. Mason Crosby will cost his team another win as the Vikings come out on top of a close game, 23-21.
Why it matters: If the Cardinals upset the 49ers at home and the Seahawks defeat the Rams at CenturyLink, then Seattle would get at least one home game and perhaps a first-round bye if the Packers lose to the Vikings.
Another reason to watch: If nothing else, this game will show how demoralizing last week's loss was to the 49ers playoff momentum. The Cardinals have one last opportunity to show they can turn things around next season and be a competitive team in the NFC West.
Prediction: Hopefully Cardinals players will revel in the opportunity to play spoiler as much as Seahawks fans want them to. But, as great as it would be for Seattle if the 49ers were to lose, I can’t come up with a really good reason to expect it to happen. A 30-13 San Francisco win to get them a first-round bye could set up an interesting playoff rematch between the 49ers and Seahawks in the second round of the playoffs.
Why it matters: Assuming the 49ers can beat the Cardinals at home, this is the game that is most likely to decide who the Seahawks will be visiting on the road in the first round of the playoffs.
Another reason to watch: No matter who wins this game the storyline will be compelling. If the Redskins win, then fans will see two rookie quarterbacks fighting to move on to the next round of the playoffs. If the Cowboys win, fans will get to re-live the botched field goal snap by Tony Romo back in 2007. Perhaps the NFL would be so kind as to schedule this wild-card game on Sunday, just to have it fall on the six-year anniversary of the game.
Prediction: No prediction, I just want to see the Cowboys win. Playing on the six-year anniversary would be too good to pass up. The only disappointing thing would be that the game wouldn’t be in Seattle or else they could replay Romo getting tackled short of the goal line multiple times on the stadium screens.
Brandan Schulze is a Navy veteran and member of the Military Sea Hawkers, the military chapter of the official booster club for the Seattle Seahawks. For more information on the chapter, visit www.militaryseahawkers.com. Membership is free for all military service members and veterans.