I got into this a little bit earlier this week when I kinda gave the overview of what needs to happen for the Seahawks to make the playoffs. Now, we’re going to look a little more in depth at the four primary threats: New York Giants, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, and Atlanta Falcons.
First up: the New York Football Giants. They currently hold a 2-game lead over the Seahawks with a 6-4 record; however, the Seahawks hold a tiebreaker over them thanks to their head-to-head victory back in Week 5.
In spite of the fact I took the Dolphins for the upset pick yesterday, Dallas did us all kinds of favors by winning that game. As I mentioned earlier this week, we NEED Dallas to win the NFC East otherwise all hope is pretty much lost (see: our head-to-head defeat to the ‘Boys in Week 9). Dallas can do us a lot more favors in Week 14 and again in Week 17, because that’s right, they play the Giants in those weeks. HUGE games.
In fact, I won’t verify this, but it looks like the Giants have the most difficult schedule the rest of the way. Look at these contenders going forward: @ New Orleans, vs. Green Bay, @ Dallas, vs. Washington, @ New York Jets, vs. Dallas. The Giants could very well fall apart. Certainly, they’re the most likely team to falter among the teams I’ll be talking about today.
Up next, we’ve got the Chicago Bears. At 7-3, they have a 3-game lead on the Seahawks. They’re currently riding a 5-game winning streak where they’ve proven to be one of the more dominant teams in the NFL. However, they’ve lost Jay Cutler (probably) for the season. Hardly-tested Caleb Hanie takes the reigns as the Bears face a fairly creampuff schedule going forward.
On the downside, for them, is that 4 of their final 6 games are on the road. Here is what it looks like: @ Oakland, vs. Kansas City, @ Denver, vs. Seattle, @ Green Bay, @ Minnesota.
Off the bat, I could see the Bears’ defense stepping up in a big way while they win 5 of those 6 games in an ugly fashion. For the Seahawks to make up our 3-game deficit, we will HAVE to beat the Bears head-to-head. That’s just a must. It would help greatly if Oakland could find a way to win this weekend. I don’t see how the Bears could POSSIBLY lose to the Chiefs. Green Bay could very well have the number one seed wrapped up before that Week 16 game (which means they could very well be resting all their starters after a quarter or a half). Which leaves us with the Denver and Minnesota games. Neither of those teams are going to strike fear in the hearts of Bears fans, but neither should be taken lightly either. The Denver Tebows are probably the most-difficult team to predict right now; and even if the Vikings are terrible, I would never count out a divisional rival at home with nothing to lose.
The Bears could make things very ominous for the Seahawks. To be perfectly honest, if I had to bet the farm, I’d bet it on the Bears knocking us out of the playoffs entirely.
Up next, we have the 7-4 Detroit Lions. The Packers were a HUGE help yesterday when they manhandled the Lions; a huge help I’m pretty sure they WON’T be in Week 17 when they host the Lions after having wrapped up the entire NFC.
Now, assuming the Seahawks will be only two games back of the Lions after this Sunday, those are two games we will have to make up somehow, some way. The Lions going into New Orleans next weekend is the obvious choice for gaining back a game. That game should be fun to watch with the high-scoring offenses on display, but it’ll also be painful if it’s close going into the fourth quarter. The Lions will be well-rested for that game, so it COULD be a struggle for the Saints. We’ll see.
That just means they have to lose one more of the following three games: vs. Minnesota, @ Oakland, vs. San Diego. I have to like the chances of the Chargers in this scenario, but obviously I can’t like them TOO much because, let’s be frank, Philip Rivers is a God damned moron!
Either way, thanks to the defeat to the Packers yesterday, the Lions are now 5-4 in the NFC. Should the Seahawks win out, we would have a 1-game edge on them in overall conference record. So, there’s that.
Finally, we have the Atlanta Falcons, at 6-4. To be perfectly honest, this is the other team that’s most likely to keep us out of the playoffs. We already have the defeat in our head-to-head matchup, so that means we have to make up THREE games on a team that has a pretty easy schedule. To wit: vs. Minnesota, @ Houston (without Matt Schaub), @ Carolina, vs. Jacksonville, @ New Orleans, vs. Tampa Bay.
You’ll notice that Minnesota can REALLY help us out with this miracle playoff chase if they can figure out a way to get hot in these final six weeks. Something tells me I’m going to be brutally disappointed on that end.
What I would have to hope for is: the Falcons losing their remaining divisional matchups. @ Carolina will be tricky, because the Panthers’ defense is one of the worst in the league. That one will have to be a huge shootout if Carolina hopes to win. @ New Orleans is probably the most reasonable choice for a Falcons loss. Vs. Tampa is a little less-reasonable, but it’s still a divisional matchup and you gotta figure the Bucs would be super fired up to be the team to knock the Falcons out of the playoffs (if that were the case).
But, whatever happens, it’s all going to hinge on the Seattle Seahawks, at 4-6, finishing the season at 10-6. I went over their remaining games earlier this week, but it would be helpful to remind everyone that getting to 10 wins will NOT be a cake walk!
It would also be helpful to remind everyone that the Seahawks still aren’t a particularly good football team. So, not only would we be hoping and praying for three out of the aforementioned four teams to have a collosal breakdown the rest of the way, but we would likewise have to instantly transform into one of the hottest teams in the NFL.
Can you see it happening? Because I’m pretty sure I can’t. But, if their defense stays as top-notch as it has been most of this entire season (and if this offense can figure out a way to do JUST enough with an ailing quarterback and a patchwork O-Line), then you can’t say it’s an impossible dream.
Just an improbable one.