Week 17 marks the end to a unique season in the history of the Seahawks. Before the first kickoff of the 2013-2014 preseason, the Seahawks were considered contenders to challenge for the Super Bowl. Although the Seahawks have won 12 games, and could well add a 13th to match the franchise record, their performance has been met with doses of doubt and pessimism from both the national media and local sports fans. It seems that until a Seattle team wins an MLB or NFL (or NBA or NHL) title, we will be known as a loser city in the world of North American professional sports.
Tomorrow ultimately changes none of that, although a loss to the St. Louis Rams would stir the pot to the flavor of the pundits and haters who believe that Seattle is nothing more than a town of chokers. After all, Seattle is the town that not only let their NBA team go, but also failed at stealing a replacement. Seattle is the town that won 116 baseball games in one year, and couldn’t beat a good-not-great Yankees team to get to the World Series (How great would that match up vs. Randy Johnson’s D-Backs been!?). Perennially Seattle is the team that wants the ball but doesn’t score. And none of that will change tomorrow…or will it?
There are basically four scenarios that can result from Week 17:
Scenario 1 – The Rams and Seahawks tie giving Seattle the NFC West title and the top seed in the NFC playoffs. Not going to happen. I just don’t see the NFC West champion having a tie against the Rams on their record for two years in a row.
Scenario 2 – The Seahawks lose to a hungry Rams team that wants to reach 8-8 and improve on last season’s 7-8-1 record. The 49ers also lose handing the Seahawks the NFC West and first seed in the playoffs. This is known as backing in to a Division championship. It could well happen but would still leave a lot of doubt about the state of the Seahawks, and an uneasy feeling heading in to the playoffs. The upside to this scenario is that the NFC West could have three teams in the playoffs (if New Orleans also loses), and the last place team would be 8-8 and unofficially better than half of the AFC playoff teams.
Scenario 3 – The Seahawks win the game, and clinch the division properly. This could well happen giving the Seahawks a much needed bye week to scout, rest, and practice. Certainly, this is the most desirable outcome for Seahawks fans.
Scenario 4 – The Seahawks lose the game. The 49ers win their game. The 49ers are the NFC West Champion. The Rams are 8-8, the Cardinals are out of the playoffs, and the Seahawks are the fifth seed in the NFC playoffs having to win three road games in a row to advance to the Super Bowl.
While some of the scenarios are more favorable than others, the truth is that they don’t really mean much. Sure losing the final game of the season then going one-and-done in the wild card round would be slightly worse than winning the final game of the season and going one-and-done in the divisional round. But would either of those scenarios actually be better or worse than losing the NFC Championship game to Carolina (or somebody else)? How about going 13-3 and losing the Super Bowl? We’ve already done that. The only way Seattle’s image gets better in any of those situations is if the fans and coaches don’t blame the refs after losing.
That leaves the Seahawks with only one choice to right the course of so many sadly sunken Seattle Sports voyages. The Seattle Seahawks have to win the Super Bowl to shut up all of the bitter Seattleites, elitist talking heads, bloggers, and fans on comment boards across the sports world that don’t see how good this team is just because they are from Seattle. The way they win the Super Bowl doesn’t really matter.
First seed with a BYE or Wild Card with a few more bumps and bruises; either way will do and either way can be done. Sadly, however sweet as it would be to see the Seahawks beat the Rams on Sunday, the outcome has little bearing on how the season will be remembered. It will be just another side-story in a season in which Seattle’s entire identity as a sports town hinges on a Super Bowl victory or another lost season.