Everything that we needed to have happen in Week 15 went ahead and happened:
- The Seahawks needed to beat the Rams
- The Giants needed to beat the Lions
So, I guess that’s not a ton of things, and I suppose the Lions could have lost anytime between yesterday and the end of the regular season. But, this puts everything smoothly in order. It’s simple:
- If the Seahawks beat Arizona at home, and win in Santa Clara after that, the Seahawks will be the #2-seed in the NFC playoffs, get a BYE in the first round, and host the highest-seeded team to come out of the Wild Card weekend.
Isn’t that fun? I think that’s fun. The top of the NFC crop is pretty simple. In fact, the only way the Dallas Cowboys won’t have the #1 seed locked up is if they lose their final two games (vs. DET, @ PHI) and the Giants win out (@ PHI, @ WAS). Seems unlikely. Seems likelier that Dallas wraps up their regular season against Detroit and gets to fart around in Week 17 just hoping no one gets injured.
Down ballot, it’s a little more complex. If Atlanta wins out (@ CAR, vs. NO), they will lock down the 3-seed. If Detroit also wins out, they would still lock down the 4-seed, unless there are a ton of tie-breakers I’m not seeing. Figure the Giants have as good a chance as any to lock in that 5-seed with a win over Philly this week. Otherwise, craziness could abound.
The Redskins have the 6-seed on lock if they win out (vs. CAR tonight, @ CHI, vs. NYG). Otherwise, Tampa is right on their heels. Tampa (@ NO, vs. CAR), if they win out, would be in at 10-6 over the 9-6-1 Redskins. I don’t see the Packers having much of an in with the final Wild Card spot unless some really wonky stuff happens these next two weeks.
However, the Packers have a very real chance of re-taking their division. First thing’s first, they need to beat Minnesota at home. Detroit’s game at Dallas this week is essentially meaningless from a divisional perspective, as the NFC North will only be decided by the Green Bay @ Detroit showdown in Week 17. In other words, in any scenario where the Packers and Lions have the same record, the Packers win the division based on beating them head-to-head twice this year. And, the only way for the Packers and Lions to end up with the same record (since Green Bay currently sits a game behind) is for Green Bay to beat Detroit in Week 17.
I won’t presume to pick the winner of that one, though my gut tells me it’s going to be a VERY exciting football game, probably with stupid Aaron Rodgers and the Packers pulling it out in the end. God, his commercials are the worst; Peyton Manning out-pitches that putz in his SLEEP!
So, for the sake of this exercise going forward, I’m going to be laboring under the impression that either Washington or Tampa will be playing at Atlanta in the 3 vs. 6 matchup on Wild Card weekend, and the Giants will be playing at either Green Bay or Detroit in the 4 vs. 5 matchup.
In ranking these teams, I think the clear worst team is whoever ends up with the 6-seed. I really DON’T think that either of those teams has a chance to beat the Falcons, but if they do it’s definitely the Disaster Scenario for the Seahawks. If the 6-seed wins, they go on to play Dallas in the Divisional Round; Dallas would absolutely massacre either of those teams, most likely, meaning it would be virtually guaranteed that if the Seahawks get to the NFC Championship Game, we would be playing it in Dallas. That might happen regardless, but I’d sure like to at least have the Cowboys work at it!
On top of that, the Giants are pretty damn scary (particularly with their D-Line), the Packers have already pounded us once this year, and quite honestly I don’t know how the Lions have made it this far, aside from the fact that they’re particularly good inside of 2 minutes of a half. Ideally, if the 6-seed wins, I’d want to play Detroit in the Divisional Round, but since I don’t even think they’re going to win their own division, that seems pretty unlikely. What’s more likely is that we play either the Giants or the Packers, and end up with the hardest path to the Super Bowl.
In a likely ideal world, Atlanta beats the 3-seed and comes back to Seattle for a revenge game. Then, either the Packers or (more likely) the Giants go to Dallas and end up beating them. Then, if we beat the Falcons again, we’d get to host the NFC Championship Game against either the Packers or (more likely) the Giants, which I think is more than do-able at home in that type of situation. In that case, I gotta think we’d have a better shot against the Giants, just because their offense is so mediocre outside of OBJ. Also because, not for nothing, Russell Wilson has 10 interceptions in his last three games against the Packers. For some reason, I think they have his number.
There’s also a fantasy scenario I’m pretty keen on that COULD happen, but it’s somewhat far-fetched. It involves Detroit winning out (including that game in Dallas), with the Falcons losing one of their next two games. That puts Detroit in the 3-seed and either Atlanta or Tampa in the 4-seed. Tampa, it appears, actually has the edge over the Falcons if they both end up at 10-6. So, a Tampa 4-seed (hosting the Giants) would mean either Atlanta falls to 6, or out of the playoffs entirely if the Redskins win out. I don’t know who I fear in this scenario, as both Atlanta and Washington appear pretty similar. But, it wouldn’t matter anyway, because if they beat Detroit in the Wild Card game, they’d just go to Dallas and get smashed anyway.
This is my fantasy scenario mostly because I want to play Detroit over any of these teams in the Divisional Round. I don’t think their defense is very good, they have no running game whatsoever, and Golden Tate is a fine receiver, but I’m not sure he’s a true #1.
Whatever happens, it would be a dream to not only get the 2-seed, but also find a way to host the NFC Championship Game. That means having the Giants do their job and taking out Dallas for us.
The picture should be that much clearer this time next week, so figure I’ll look to write another one of these after Christmas.