Analysis: Here’s what awaits the Seahawks after their bye as they attempt a playoff push

The Seahawks return to work Monday after a week off following their trip to Germany and a weekend spent watching the carnage around the rest of the NFL.

Especially in the NFC, which seems as wide open as it has in years.

The Seahawks will have to wait a day to know if they will end the bye in first place in the NFC West alone at 6-4 or tied with the 49ers — who are 5-4 and play Arizona on Monday night in Mexico City.

Regardless, the results of the weekend did nothing to dissuade the idea that the Seahawks cannot only make the playoffs but maybe do some damage once there.

The Eagles improved to 9-1 but needed a late rally against the Colts and interim coach Jeff Saturday; the previously 8-1 Vikings were exposed by the Cowboys in a surprising blowout loss; the once 6-1 Giants lost for the second time in three weeks, and the defending Super Bowl champion Rams lost their fourth in a row to almost totally fall out of playoff contention.

Little feels certain.

But the focus of Seahawks coach Pete Carroll — as is the philosophy of almost all coaches — is to control what you can control and let the rest take care of itself.

The remainder of their schedule features five home games in the last seven weeks, only three against teams that currently have winning records.

Here’s a look at what the Seahawks have left:

Nov. 27 vs. Las Vegas Raiders (3-7): The Raiders did the Seahawks a favor Sunday by handing Denver another devastating loss — 22-16 in overtime, the third OT defeat for the Broncos and Russell Wilson this season. That means that first-round pick headed the Seahawks’ way from Denver will be that much better.

Dec. 4 at Los Angeles Rams (3-7): This is the first of two games the Seahawks have left against the Rams, who are threatening to finish with the worst record for any defending Super Bowl champ. That record is held by the 1999 Denver Broncos, who went 6-10 in the first year after John Elway retired following two straight Super Bowl titles. The Rams fell apart in the second half Sunday to lose 27-20 in the Saints and along the way saw QB Matt Stafford leave with a concussion after having had to clear concussion protocol during the week to play. Backup QB John Wolford was also out this week with a neck injury, leaving the Rams to finish out the game with third-stringer Bryce Perkins, who was playing just his second NFL game. This looms as a much more advantageous game for the Seahawks than anyone could have imagined when the season began.

Dec. 11 vs. Carolina Panthers (3-8): So which quarterback rumored to be a Seahawks target will the Panthers throw — Baker Mayfield or Sam Darnold? Or will it be back to P.J. Walker? What we do know, based on how tough Carolina played the Ravens for most of a 13-3 loss, is that the Panthers are playing hard for interim coach Steve Wilks, the former Cardinals coach who was the defensive backs coach at UW in 2005.

Dec. 15 vs. San Francisco 49ers (5-4): If the 49ers beat the Cardinals — who reportedly will go with backup Colt McCoy at quarterback — it will be their third straight win and might stamp them as the favorite to win the NFC West in the eyes of those outside Seattle. But the hole card the Seahawks have is hosting the 49ers in a Thursday nighter, which might be as consequential as any Thursday night game this season.

Dec. 24 at Kansas City Chiefs (7-2): This is by far the toughest game remaining on the Seahawks’ schedule. It also will be KC’s first home game in December after playing its previous three on the road. The Chiefs are 2-0 against the NFC West, both dominant wins — 44-21 at Arizona in week one and 44-23 at San Francisco on Oct. 23.

Jan. 1 vs. New York Jets (6-4): The Jets had one of the more bizarre losses in recent NFL history Sunday, gaining just 2 yards in the second half against the Patriots before losing 10-3 on an 84-yard punt return with five seconds left. But while the Jets have offensive issues — and who knows who the QB will be by the time this game rolls around — they have put together one of the better defenses in the NFL under former Seahawk defensive assistant Robert Saleh (defensive quality control coach from 2011-13). If the Jets have anything to play for, this one won’t be easy.

Jan. 7/8 vs. Los Angeles Rams (3-7): The Seahawks’ last regular-season game of the season could be played Saturday or Sunday. Following Week 17, the NFL will pick two games to be played Saturday, with the rest Sunday. This game will mark the return of Seahawks’ legend Bobby Wagner. The Seahawks hope it will have a lot of other importance. And in case the division is on the line, the 49ers will host Arizona in Week 18, with both games possibly being played at the same time.

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