The weekend wasn’t a lot better for the Seahawks than the week itself.
After two defeats in five days at Lumen Field meant Seattle went from squarely in the NFC playoff picture to firmly out of it, the Seahawks also didn’t get the results they would have liked during their mini-bye, either for the present or the future.
As the Seahawks get back to work this week, let’s re-set where things stand.
Current playoff positioning
The Seahawks’ 21-13 defeat against the 49ers on Thursday dropped them to the eighth spot in the NFC, in which seven teams make the playoffs — the four division winners and the three teams with the next-best records as wild cards.
Seattle, at 7-7, technically is tied with Detroit for the eighth spot behind the four division winners/leaders (Philadelphia, Minnesota, San Francisco, Tampa Bay) and the three wild-card teams — Dallas (10-4), New York (8-5-1) and Washington (7-6-1).
Via fivethirtyeight.com, the Seahawks now have a 30% chance of making the playoffs — they were at 55% before the loss to the 49ers.
But who knew how big Seattle’s 48-45 victory at Detroit on Oct. 2 might prove to be?
Detroit has won six of seven to go from 1-6 to 7-7, including a 20-17 victory over the Jets Sunday — one of the results of this weekend that didn’t go Seattle’s way.
But while few envisioned a few weeks ago that the Lions would suddenly be a threat to the Seahawks for a playoff spot, Seattle at least holds the head-to-head tiebreaker on the Lions due to that October victory, leaving the Lions with the ninth seed.
The odds of holding that lead through next week, though, aren’t perceived as good by the oddsmakers — while Seattle is a 9.5-point underdog at Kansas City Saturday, the Lions are a three-point favorite at Carolina.
One thing the last few days also did is further clarify what position the Seahawks would have if they were to make the playoffs.
Specifically, the only two spots Seattle can claim now are either the No. 6 or No. 7 seed. And that would mean a first-round road game against one of four teams — Philadelphia, Minnesota, Dallas or San Francisco, the only four teams left that can fill either the second or third spots in the NFC (which is what the sixth or seventh seeds would play).
The Seahawks have three regular-season games left. Here’s a look at each:
Saturday, at Kansas City: The Chiefs survived an upset bid at Houston on Sunday to win in overtime, 30-24, improve to 11-3 and win the AFC West for the seventh consecutive year.
But the Chiefs, sadly for Seattle, still have plenty to play for, needing to keep winning to get the No. 1 seed in the AFC (the Chiefs are tied with the Bills at 11-3, and a game ahead of the 10-4 Bengals).
And K.C.’s motivation and home field is why the Seahawks enter the week tied for being the biggest underdog of next weekend at 9.5 — the Bears also are a 9.5-point underdog at home against Buffalo.
The Seahawks better also bring their warm clothing — weather forecasts as of Sunday night called for a high temperature of 10 Saturday in Kansas City. It’s at least expected to be mostly clear.
Via fivethirtyeight.com, a victory would improve Seattle’s playoff odds to 67%. A loss drops them to 23%.
Jan. 1 vs. New York Jets. Despite the loss to Detroit, the Jets remain in the AFC playoff chase at 7-7. And the Jets will come to Seattle next week off their mini-bye after being at home against Jacksonville on Thursday. If the Jets lose to the Jags then there is a scenario where their playoff hopes would be done by the time they come to Seattle. But most likely, the Jets will still have something to play for.
The Jets also have one of the better defenses in the NFL — ranked third in yards allowed and sixth in points allowed before Sunday — sure to pose a stiff test to the Seahawks regardless.
Jan. 7-8, vs. Los Angeles Rams: The date for this game may not be set until six days prior, or Jan. 1, as the NFL sorts out the best games for the final weekend. The Rams will have nothing to play for other than to give Bobby Wagner a nice homecoming to Seattle — which figures to be plenty enough. The trick for the Seahawks is to make this game meaningful — losses against both the Chiefs and Jets could have Seattle eliminated by the time the Rams come to town.
What’s next for the other wild-card contenders
As noted, Seattle is logically in a battle with three other teams — the Giants, Commanders and Lions — for the final two wild card spots in the NFC.
Here’s a look at what each of those teams still has left:
New York Giants: at Minnesota, vs. Indianapolis, at Philadelphia. Comment: This looks pretty rugged, but if the Eagles have nothing to play for in week 18 then the Giants could catch a big break.
Washington: at San Francisco, vs. Cleveland, at Dallas. Comment: The Commanders are a 7.5-point underdog at SF, a team the Seahawks will suddenly be rooting for Sunday. The Cowboys might not have much to play for in week 18, though, meaning that like the Giants, Washington could get a big break that final weekend if Dallas were to rest some key players.
Detroit: at Carolina, Chicago, at Green Bay. Comment: The Lions could be favored to win all three.
The upshot of this is that Seattle may have a lot of trouble catching up to the Giants, but could have something of an edge in schedule on Washington.
And the real, uh, wild-card here suddenly is Detroit, which as noted could pass Seattle next week and has a schedule that could be viewed as the most favorable of the teams most logically in the playoff hunt.
Current draft standing
Seahawks’ fans have also had one eye on the future throughout this season and specifically those two early picks coming from Denver.
While most of the season has yielded surprisingly good news on that front — and no matter where the pick lands it’s going to be far better than anyone could have imagined when the trade was made on March 8 — Sunday marked a rare step back as Denver beat Arizona 24-15.
That win improved the Broncos’ record to 4-10 and moved them from second to third in draft positioning, behind Chicago, which lost its seventh straight game to fall to 3-11.
Via tankathon.com, if the season ended today, Seattle would have the third, 15th, 36th and 50th picks in the 2023 draft, with the third and 36th selections each coming from Denver.
Interestingly, the Broncos got their win Sunday with Brett Rypien, the former Shadle Park High star who is the nephew of Mark Rypien, at quarterback with Wilson sidelined due to a concussion.
With or without Wilson, Denver may not be favored to win again this year — the Broncos play Christmas Day at Los Angeles against the Rams, then play at Kansas City (which will likely still need to win) and host the Chargers, who will also likely still have a lot to play for.
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