Seahawks playoff scenarios looking up

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The Seattle Seahawks would play the Washington Redskins if the playoffs started today, according to one NFL playoff projection.

Once the Seahawks finished off their 35-7 dismantling of the Minnesota Vikings Sunday, I couldn’t wait to get back to the ESPN Playoff Machine and plug in the league’s most recent results.

As I’ve been doing, I went ahead and also projected how I think each and every game will go through the NFL’s final four weeks. Here’s what the Playoff Machine spit out this week:

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IF SEAHAWKS WIN OUT: (11-5)

Based on my picks, they would earn the 5th seed in the NFC and travel to face the Washington Redskins in the first round. This is an ideal situation. Carolina and Arizona hold the 1st and 2nd seed, respectively, but the remaining seeds look like this:

3. Green Bay (10-6)

4. Washington (9-7)

5. Seattle (11-5) 

6. Minnesota (10-6)

As you can see, the Seahawks avoid having to travel to play a January playoff game in Lambeau Field against a suddenly (possibly) resurgent Packer team. This is a good thing.

IF SEAHAWKS LOSE TO CARDINALS: (10-6)

This would change absolutely nothing. The Cards still finish as the #2 seed and Seattle gets the 5th. I wanted to see how this projection would look but the Hawks should still hold a big advantage heading into this game. They are likely not going to have anything on the line in Week #17 having already locked up the 2nd seed, and with no shot at overtaking Carolina for the 1st. Thus, they will most likely play Carson Palmer and a number of other key starters.

However, if this is how it plays out, the Seahawks themselves may think about limiting snaps for key players as they’ll already know where they stand before they get on the plane for Glendale.

Next: 7 Possible Replacements if Darrell Bevell Leaves

IF SEAHAWKS FINISH 9-7:

This would be bad. Again, it’s all based on my projections, and I’ve got Tampa Bay finishing strong against a weak schedule. This puts them at 9-7 and they win most the tiebreakers. No matter which combination of two losses I punch into the machine, the Seahawks at 9-7 fall out of the playoff race altogether.

This is an unlikely scenario, however, as the red-hot Hawks face teams with a combined 10-26 record in their next three games (Baltimore, Cleveland, St. Louis). It’s a much more likely scenario that they finish 10-6 or better.

When looking at the possibilities, this makes it crucial that the Seahawks take care of business and win the next three. In doing so, they would eliminate the possibility of having to beat the Cardinals on the road in the final week to squeek into the playoffs.