I think, regardless as to how it plays out, as a fan you’re always happy when your team is able to win its division. You’re ecstatic when your team is able to finagle its way into a first round BYE. And, you’re on cloud nine when you’ve got home field throughout the playoffs.
At this point, I wouldn’t put a lot of confidence in Seattle’s chances at getting that top seed in the NFC. Even if we win out – which I DO have a lot of confidence in us achieving – we’ve got the Cowboys and the Packers to contend with. The Packers have 3 losses with 3 games to play: at Buffalo, at Tampa, and at home vs. Detroit. It’s certainly not IMPOSSIBLE for the Bills to beat the Packers, but it would go down as a VERY big shock to the NFL landscape. It would require an uncharacteristically bad game out of Aaron Rodgers and/or an early game-ending injury out of Aaron Rodgers. So, for your sanity, just count on that being a win for the Packers. Tampa is about as hapless as it gets, so don’t even go there. That puts the onus on the Lions in week 17, playing in the frozen climate that is Green Bay. Certainly, the Lions have the best chances of anyone to beat the Packers in this regular season slate, but don’t be shocked if they fall short.
Then, there’s Dallas. Yes, the Tony Romo & Jerry Jones & Jason Garrett-led Cowboys. I know they’re the laughingstock of the league (non-Bay Area edition) and that they always fall apart in December and are the kings of mediocrity, but they’re a thorn in our side and they’re driving me crazy.
They have a tiebreaker over us based on our head-to-head matchup, because we somehow let them come into our home and walk all over us. The ONLY reason why we’re in the playoffs right now and they’re not (if the season ended today) is because Detroit also shares a 9-4 record with us. In a 3-way tiebreaker with the Lions and Cowboys, we come out ahead on wins in common games and conference games. But, if the Lions fall out of that 3-way tie, then the first tiebreaker immediately reverts to head-to-head matchup, which as I said before, Dallas wins.
That’s a problem! While the Cowboys have the most difficult remaining schedule (at least, in my opinion) the rest of the way (at Philly, vs. Indy, at Washington), it’s not impossible for them to win those games. Philly has flaws (as we just witnessed), Indy has flaws (as the Browns just exposed), and the Redskins are terrible. If Dallas wins out, and Seattle wins out, and Green Bay wins out, then we’re looking at Green Bay & Dallas as the NFC’s top two seeds, with the Seahawks hosting either the Lions, Eagles, or Cardinals in the first round of the playoffs (sending us to Dallas in round 2 if we were to win, followed by a road trip to Green Bay or back to Seattle against either the winner of the NFC South or whoever comes away with the 5-seed in the NFC Championship Game).
It’s discouraging that the Seahawks don’t control their own fate beyond the NFC West. Everyone just ASSUMES the Cowboys will lose a game between now and season’s end, but that’s far from guaranteed. Ideally, we’re going to need Philly to win at home against the Cowboys this week, otherwise things might get VERY hairy.
But, getting back to my original point, as a Seahawks fan, you just want to see the Seahawks get in. Of course, it’s better to have that first round BYE, but it’s by no means ALL IMPORTANT for the Seahawks to have that in order to advance to the Super Bowl.
The two Super Bowl teams in franchise history have had the luxury of home field advantage throughout. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at, as it’s pretty fucking difficult for teams to come in here and win. But, there’s something to be said for being a team that can win the tough ones on the road. If things go as planned, and the Seahawks win out, we will finish the season 7-1 at home and 5-3 on the road. I know, it’s not like we’re talking about big time road warriors or anything; but if the Seahawks who lost in St. Louis and San Diego (and Kansas City, for that matter) were playing as well as THESE Seahawks have been playing against the Cardinals, 49ers, and Eagles, you’d be looking at a team that’s cruising into the top overall seed. In any event, the Seahawks have won twice in a row on the road against supposedly really good teams. It took a bunch of flukey shit for us to lose in St. Louis. We were pretty injured for that Chiefs game. And it was 120 degrees in San Diego way back in week 2. If you shuffled this year’s schedule like a deck of cards and caught some of these teams during their weaker moments, who knows where we’d be right now?
The point is, I like that the Seahawks are looking at having another winning road record. I like the fact that CenturyLink Field has already been demystified by losses to the Cardinals late last year, and to the Cowboys earlier this year. We’re NOT just a team that’s impossible to beat at home! We’re a well-rounded team that can win anywhere, at any time of day. Under the white lights of a national audience, we only get stronger. You can’t say that about everyone. I mean, shit, the Cowboys are only 3-4 at home! Who’s afraid of going to Dallas to play THEM in the playoffs? That atmosphere is as sterile and impotent as anything Santa Clara has to offer, with all the comforts of being in a climate-controlled environment. Shit, at this point, that sounds a HELLUVA lot more inviting than playing under potential rainstorms in Seattle!
Regardless, these Seahawks are a scary bunch. No one in football wants to play us at our best. Don’t forget, when you’re talking about the Seahawks, you’re talking about the Champs. The target is still on us, remember? Except, it’s really not. Not anymore. So many people (Seahawks fans included, myself especially included) wrote off this team earlier this year. They’re still focused on Green Bay and the big dogs in the AFC. And yet, if you really think about it, where does the pressure lay? The Packers can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the top 2 seeds. The Cowboys can’t afford to lose another game, otherwise they might fall out of the playoffs entirely. Same goes for the Eagles, Cardinals, and Lions. And sure, the Seahawks are in danger if they screw up somehow, but does anyone REALLY see that happening?
The 49ers are a Chernobyl right now. The Cards have their hands full tomorrow in St. Louis, with another road game in Santa Clara sandwiching a home game against us; color me unimpressed with Arizona’s so-called home field advantage. Don’t forget, we handled them pretty easily down there last year. Then, in week 17, we get our usual home date with the Rams. The Seahawks don’t lose at home to the Rams in week 17, it just isn’t DONE!
Yes, the Seahawks could use some help around the NFC to get one of those top two seeds, but I’m not going to go out and say they NEED help. The Seahawks are in control of their own fate regardless. Two playoff games before the Super Bowl or three playoff games before the Super Bowl, it doesn’t matter. The Seahawks ARE going to the Super Bowl, and it seems like we’re the only people who know it.
- Green Bay Packers (10-3) – Some things are even more powerful than my first-place jinx. And those things are the Atlanta Falcons and their defensive ineptitude.
- Denver Broncos (10-3) – This running the ball horseshit needs to end now, or else I’m going to be 2001 Mariners’d out of the fantasy football playoffs this year. Gonna need Sanders to have a nice, big game this week.
- New England Patriots (10-3) – Getting a lot of heat this week about a possible Seahawks/Patriots Super Bowl. Not gonna lie to you, I’d be for it. Over/under on the times people use variations on the phrase U Mad Bro?: 7 million. I’m taking the over.
- Seattle Seahawks (9-4) – Number four with a bullet! To be frank, I think the Seahawks could beat any team in the nation right now, the way the defense is playing. But, there has to be a penalty for that mid-season swoon.
- Indianapolis Colts (9-4) – Every team from here on down has serious flaws that will cost them in the playoffs. I can’t trust their defense, and I still think Luck is a little too mistake-prone for comfort.
- Detroit Lions (9-4) – The defense is solid, but the offense is oddly inept. It’d be pretty rad to see the Lions match up with the Seahawks in the playoffs, though.
- San Diego Chargers (8-5) – I don’t much care for their defense or their running game. I also don’t much care for their remaining schedule; they’re by no means a lock to make the playoffs.
- Philadelphia Eagles (9-4) – Obviously, there are issues at quarterback and in the secondary. Just need them to take care of business this week and after that, who gives a shit?
- Arizona Cardinals (10-3) – Again, big time trouble at quarterback. Only, they don’t have Nick Foles possibly looming on the horizon to save them.
- Dallas Cowboys (9-4) – Very good up and down on offense. But, Tony Romo’s struggles have to be in the back of your mind at all times.
- Baltimore Ravens (8-5) – Easiest remaining schedule of the bunch in the AFC North. Gotta like their chances to run the table. Plus, their defense should get healthy come playoff time. Scary team in the AFC, to be honest.
- Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) – Too up & down to be threatening.
- Cincinnati Bengals (8-4-1) – Just not that good.
- Kansas City Chiefs (7-6) – Even worse than the Bengals, if that’s possible.
- Miami Dolphins (7-6) – Probably needs a quality head coach. Wouldn’t mind seeing Jim Harbaugh there next season if I’m a Dolphins fan.
- San Francisco 49ers (7-6) – Obviously time for a change. They should see if they can trade Harbaugh & Kaepernick to the Dolphins for Tannehill and a mid-round pick.
The Loser’s Bracket:
- St. Louis Rams (6-7) – Honestly: the team I fear the most in the Seahawks’ remaining three games.
- Houston Texans (7-6) – At worst, they’ll be 8-8. At best, probably 9-7 and on the outside looking in at a playoff spot.
- Buffalo Bills (7-6) – At best, they’ll be 8-8. At worst, at least they’re staying in Buffalo and have discontinued those awful Toronto “home” games.
- Cleveland Browns (7-6) – Good GOD is Hoyer a fucking disaster! I’ve seen paper airplanes made by 6 year olds fly with better accuracy than his footballs! Also, don’t ask what I’m doing around 6 year olds with paper airplanes. NO COMMENT.
- Minnesota Vikings (6-7) – Pretty brutal schedule the rest of the way, but at least it looks like they’ve got the best rookie quarterback of the bunch this year. That’s not nothing!
- Atlanta Falcons (5-8) – Don’t blame the Falcons for losing to the Packers. After all, they did us a solid by taking out the Cards. You can’t expect them to do EVERYTHING for us.
- Carolina Panthers (4-8-1) – I, uh, yeah. I dunno. They got home games against Tampa and Cleveland before a road game in Atlanta. The Falcons’ other games are home against Pittsburgh and at New Orleans. The Saints go to Chicago and Tampa for their other two games. I’ve got the Panthers at 6-9-1, the Falcons at 6-10, and the Saints at 7-9 (with an outside shot of them also losing at Tampa, which would be the ultimate fuck you to the NFL playoff system).
- New Orleans Saints (5-8) – Hello darkness, my old friend.
- Chicago Bears (5-8) – They’re really blowing the last good years of Matt Forte’s career. You hate to see it.
- New York Giants (4-9) – With Eli, ODB, and maybe an explosive running back in next year’s draft, we could see the Giants turning this thing around as early as next year. Watch out, America.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-11) – Look, it’s pretty obvious that they’re angling for Marcus Mariota, and I for one hope they get him. My question is: do I go out of my way to draft Mariota next year in fantasy? I play in a QB-heavy keeper league, so the answer to this question is kind of important.
- Washington Redskins (3-10) – If they’re smart, they’ll cut RGIII loose, fire Jay Gruden, and hang Dan Snyder with piano wire.
- New York Jets (2-11) – Can you imagine if there was a Ryan brother who focused exclusively on being an offensive coordinator? Would every play be a Hail Mary?
- Oakland Raiders (2-11) – OK, you beat the 49ers, so you’re solid in my book.
- Jacksonville Jaguars (2-11) – Blake Bortles or no Blake Bortles, if the Jags get the number one pick, I still say they continue to go after a quarterback until they get it right.
- Tennessee Titans (2-11) – You are one pathetic loser!