Can The Seahawks Legitimately Catch The Cardinals For The NFC West?

For the premise of this post to even REMOTELY come to fruition, the Seahawks are going to have to win out.  I can’t imagine a world in which a 10-6 Seahawks team overcomes a 3-game deficit to the Cardinals, when we’re already behind the 8-ball on the head-to-head tiebreaker.  So, for the sake of this argument, the Seahawks will need to finish 11-5.

The Cardinals right now are 9-2.  They play the Seahawks in Week 17.  Assuming the Seahawks win that game, that evens out the head-to-head tiebreaker, and brings the Cards to 3 losses.  The next tie-breaker is divisional record.  Right now, the Seahawks have 2 losses within the division; the Cards have 1 loss (to the Rams in Week 4).  The easiest route for the Seahawks to overtake the Cardinals is to beat them head-to-head in Week 17, for the Cards to lose this week in St. Louis (bringing them to 3 divisional losses), and for the Cards to lose one other game (vs. Min, @ Phi, vs. GB).  That sounds really unlikely (particularly the Rams game, with how crappy they’ve been playing the last three weeks), but it’s not entirely impossible.

Short of the divisional tiebreaker, the next one on the list is “win/loss/tie percentage in common games” (which, for some reason, comes before conference record, don’t ask me why).  The Seahawks and Cardinals share 12 of 14 opponents (not counting the Seahawks & Cardinals playing one another; the only different ones are the ones where we played a team from the NFC East and South).  The Seahawks lost to the Panthers and beat the Cowboys (our two uncommon opponents); the Cards beat the Saints and have yet to play the Eagles.  This actually works to our advantage a little bit.  Right now, our record in common games is 5-3 and their record is 7-2.  So, assuming the Cards DON’T lose to the Rams this weekend, and we finish with the same divisional record, we will need the Cards to lose to at least Minnesota or Green Bay to even out our record against common opponents (should they lose to both, we would obviously pass them with this tiebreaker).  But, if they only lose to one or the other, they would have to lose to the Eagles to even up their overall win/loss record (to get to 5 losses and these other tiebreakers in the first place).

That gets us to Conference Record.  The Seahawks already have 4 defeats to NFC teams; the Cards only have 1.  Assuming everything that happens in the previous two paragraphs comes to pass (Seahawks win out; Cards beat the Rams, lose to the Eagles, and lose to one of the Packers/Vikings), that puts us on an even footing again.

Next tiebreaker is Strength of Victory.  Ours, right now, is .358; theirs is .400.  There are WAY too many variables right now to even get into this; but suffice it to say, I think their victory over the Bengals (in addition to the possibility of beating either the Vikings or Packers) would keep them safely ahead of us going forward.  After Strength of Victory is Strength of Schedule, which we have a hold of right now (considering we played Carolina and they played the Saints, in our main uncommon opponents), but I seriously doubt it’s going to get to this point.

To answer the question in the headline, it’s POSSIBLE, but it’s not very likely.  Considering I DON’T think the Eagles can beat the Cards, that renders a lot of the lower tiebreakers moot.  What it boils down to is:  we’re all going to have to be HUGE Rams fans this weekend, and hope that our collective rooting can somehow push the Rams into the realm of competence.  If the Rams fail us (which feels pretty likely), we’re going to have to topple the Cards in one of the tiebreakers BEFORE the Strength of Victory winning percentage, as that feels like a sure loser.  Meaning, again, if the Rams fail us, the only way for the Seahawks to win the division, is for the Cardinals to lose – AT HOME – to the Vikings, Packers, and Seahawks (the Eagles game is essentially meaningless at this point).

Do we think the Cards are going to lose at home to the Vikings, Packers, and Seahawks?  Sounds like a tall order.  So, Rams, get it together and get this shit done, all right?

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