The NFL has reached the point in the year where every team has played at least half of its regular-season games. Some teams are already looking ahead to the offseason and the NFL draft. Others, like the Seahawks, have their sights set firmly on the playoffs.
It is time to take a complete look at how the NFC playoff standings currently stack up and what it all means for the Seahawks.
The Current Situation
|2||New Orleans Saints||6||2|
|5||San Francisco 49ers||6||2|
|8||Green Bay Packers||5||3|
Seattle currently stands at the top of the NFC. Its eight wins is two more than any other team. That's a huge advantage for the Seahawks to have at this point, especially since the two teams currently with six wins will play each other later this season.
Seattle will give one of those games back to the other contenders in two weeks when it has its bye week, but that extra win is still significant. Seattle has a nice cushion on the rest of the NFC at the moment.
Missing the Playoffs?
The chances that the Seahawks could miss the playoffs this season is so remote at this point, it is bordering on impossible. Seattle would have to finish the rest of the season 0-7 to have no shot at the playoffs. Given its remaining schedule, the possibility of that happening is extremely low.
If Seattle were to finish 1-6 in their remaining games, they could still make the playoffs. It would come down to tiebreakers with teams like the Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and Carolina Panthers. Seattle has a victory over the Panthers already this season, which would give them an edge.
With just two more wins this season, the Seahawks can all but guarantee their spot in the playoffs. According to Pro Football Reference, only six teams since 1992 have reached 10 wins in a season and not made the playoffs.
The NFC West Title
While the Seahawks have almost wrapped up a spot in the playoffs, the NFC West title is another story. The San Francisco 49ers are just one game behind the Seahawks in the loss column, and the teams play each other in San Francisco later this season.
That game in San Francisco in December will likely be for the division title. A win would give the Seahawks a two-game buffer that the 49ers would have to overcome in the other weeks of the season. Plus, with Seattle's two wins over San Francisco on the year, the Seahawks would own the tiebreaker over the 49ers.
If the Seahawks lose that game, it'll negate the current lead they hold in the division. It'll also remove the tiebreaker advantage that Seattle would have had if they'd won. Clearly, that game holds a lot of meaning for both teams.
The 14-2 Problem
It is possible, though highly unlikely, that the Seahawks could end up at 14-2 and not be the No. 1 seed. It is also possible that they end up with that record and wind up with the No. 5 seed and never play a playoff game in Seattle.
If New Orleans wins its remaining games, and Seattle's only loss is to the Saints, then both teams will be 14-2 on the season. The Saints would take the No. 1 seed because they would have beaten the Seahawks in their head-to-head matchup.
Even worse for Seattle would be if it and San Francisco both end up at 14-2. The 49ers would have to win all their remaining games, with Seattle's only loss being to San Francisco for that to happen. The teams would have the same record, and have each been victorious over the other this season, so the tiebreaker would come down strength of victory considerations.
The 49ers currently hold that tiebreaker over Seattle, though that could change down the stretch. If the Green Bay Packers fall apart without QB Aaron Rogers, and the Minnesota Vikings and New York Giants pick up a few wins, it is possible for Seattle to hold that tiebreaker by season's end.
Of course, before any of this matters, the two teams actually need to be able to finish the season 14-2. It is highly unlikely that this would ever come to pass, but the possibility is still there.
The most important thing to note is that the Seahawks control their own destiny at this point. If they keep winning, there is no way for any other team to unseat them from the division lead or the No. 1 seed.
The Seahawks just need to concentrate on getting wins. If that happens, things will work themselves out. Only if they begin losing will things begin to get complicated for Seattle. There is still a lot of football left to be played this season before the contenders will be separated from the pretenders.