Would 6th seed suit Seahawks better?


The Seahawks and Cardinals both have plenty to play for when they meet this Sunday.

Well so much for best-case scenario. As I wrote last week, the Seahawks had a chance to all but wrap up the 5th seed if they could have just shown up and played like they cared last week against an inferior but inspired St. Louis Rams team. But with an effort more worthy of earning a high draft pick than a better playoff spot, the Seahawks need to go to Arizona and play for keeps. No more thoughts of resting or protecting key starters.

And now they have to do it against a Cardinal team in exactly the same boat.

You can thank the Atlanta Falcons for that. By upsetting previously-unbeaten Carolina Sunday, the Falcons kept Arizona’s hopes of a #1 overall seed alive and well. If Carolina loses to Tampa Bay this week, the Cardinals can earn home field advantage throughout the playoffs with a win over Seattle. And since the two games kick off at the same time, there’s no chance of Arizona calling off the dogs.

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That sets up the following scenarios, according to the ESPN Playoff Machine:

  • If Minnesota beats Green Bay to win the NFC North, the Seahawks are the 6th seed no matter what they do Sunday. That game won’t be played until 5:30pm, eliminating any possibility Seattle will know their fate in time to make changes in personnel.
  • If Seattle beats Arizona, they’ll be watching that late game closely on the flight home, knowing that a Green Bay win will get them the 5th seed.

So that leaves open the possibility that the Seahawks could face any one of three opponents in their first round wild card playoff match up. Trying to decipher who’s the better match up is one that requires a level of advanced analytical diagnosis that my brain isn’t big enough to decipher.

But I’ll tell you what it feels like. It feels like the Seahawks might be better off with the 6th seed after all, and here’s why:

  1. The Redskins (first round opponent for whichever team earns the 5th seed) are one of the hottest teams in the league, winning four of their last five and six of nine. Over that span, QB Kirk Cousins has only thrown 2 INT’s to go along with 16 TD’s. His primary target has become TE Jordan Reed, who’s racked up 83 catches and 11 TD’s in his breakout season. And we know how much the Hawks have struggled against great pass receiving TE’s this season, right?
  2. Green Bay has been wildly inconsistent, and just got their lunch handed to them in Arizona. Their offensive line is a mess, and their offensive weapons aren’t as scary as they have been in years past. And one of the biggest reasons you dread going to Green Bay this time of year, the weather, shouldn’t be a factor. The forecast for Wild Card Weekend at this point is for no snow, clear skies, and temperatures in the mid-20’s. I’ll take that.
  3. Minnesota has bounced back nicely since losing back-to-back games against the Hawks and Cards, but are one-dimensional on offense and don’t seem to present any stiffer challenge to Seattle now than they did prior to that 38-7 domination five weeks ago.
  4. Who would you rather face in the divisional round right now, Carolina or Arizona? At this point I’ll take my chances with the Panthers over the Cards.

A week ago at this time Seattle held the title of “Team No One Wants To Face In The Playoffs.” That’s suddenly changed. All the feel-good that was generated during their 5 game winning streak seemed to vanish with every missed block or fumbled football against the Rams. Things we thought we knew about this team are now huge questions. Which offensive line will show up this week and beyond? Will the defense have any chance of matching up with Arizona’s elite offense? Will Marshawn Lynch be ready, and if not then who runs the ball?

As we saw all over the league last weekend, anything can happen on any given week. We have seen the Seahawks turn a bad performance into a winning streak in one week’s time before, in fact they just did that after the last time they faced the Cardinals.

Next: 5 Takeaways from Rams loss

Win or lose in the desert this Sunday, the question of what seed the Seahawks end up with may ultimately be a secondary issue. And at this point I don’t see much different between the 5th or 6th seed. The real question is which Seahawks team will show up, regardless of who and where they play.