Just when I said the Seattle Seahawks are not going to make the playoffs, guess what happens. Not only do the Seahawks defeat the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday night, the four teams directly ahead of them in the wild card standings all lose on Sunday. Go figure.
The Seahawks’ chances are still remote, but they are significantly better than they were a week ago. Almost every outcome on Sunday worked in Seattle’s favor, with the possible exception of Arizona defeating Dallas. Even victories by the Green Bay Packers and the San Francisco 49ers helped Seattle. Green Bay’s victory increased the likelihood that they will be the #1 seed in the NFC. San Francisco locked up the NFC West Championship, and with the possibility of overtaking the Packers diminishing, the 49ers may have very little to play for when they face the Seahawks on Christmas Eve.
The Seahawks have some control of their destiny. They play Chicago in Soldier Field in just under two weeks, and play the season finale against Arizona that could conceivably have playoff implications.
Let’s take a look at the teams currently ahead of Seattle in playoff seeding. The Chicago Bears are currently the #5 seed, but they have lost their last two and are reeling from the losses of Jay Cutler and Matt Forte to injury. There is definitely a sense of panic here in Chicago. The Bears travel to Denver this Sunday to face the inexplicably hot Broncos. The game against the Seahawks the next week could be significant for both teams.
The Atlanta Falcons are the #6 seed as of today. The Falcons are going to be the hardest team for the Seahawks to overtake because Atlanta defeated Seattle in early October. Atlanta has had an up and down season, but their remaining schedule is soft and the team is fairly healthy.
The Detroit Lions are the seventh seed, and wouldn’t make the playoffs if the season ended today. After a red hot 5-0 start, the Lions have lost five of their last seven games and seem to be fading badly. The Lions still face difficult road tests at Oakland and at Green Bay.
Speaking of fading badly, the New York Giants have lost four in a row and continue their recent track record of late season swoons. They fought Green Bay hard yesterday, but came up short. Their schedule is tough, with each game against a bitter rival. They face Washington, crosstown rival New York Jets, and archrival Dallas twice. The Seahawks have an advantage here because of their victory over the Giants earlier this season.
It’s unlikely the Seahawks could overtake the Falcons, but the others are potentially catchable. Seattle trails Chicago and Detroit by two games and the Giants by one. The Seahawks must win their remaining four games to have a chance and hope these three teams continue to slide. It still an uphill battle, but the hill got a lot less steeper after a virtually perfect weekend.