The Seattle Seahawks are likely headed to the NFL playoffs, but the question is how they will get to the postseason. The Seahawks’ recent loss to the Rams makes their Week 17 matchup with the 49ers even more important in a matchup that is expected to be for the division.
FiveThirtyEight’s computer projections give the Seahawks a 98 percent chance to make the playoffs, but just 36 percent odds to take the division. San Francisco’s division championship odds are quite a bit higher at 64 percent.
Seattle currently sits one game behind San Francisco in the NFC West and potentially one of the top seeds in the NFC. The Seahawks will be favored in their next two games against the Panthers and Cardinals. If the Seahawks are victorious, it sets up a Week 17 matchup against the 49ers for the division and likely one of the top NFC seeds.
If the Seahawks win out and the 49ers only lose in Week 17, the two teams would both have identical records at 13-3, but Seattle would hold the tiebreaker thanks to a potential season sweep of the Niners.
There Is a Big Difference in Playoff Seeding for the NFC West Champion
The difference between a top-two seed and No. 5 is significant. It is true the Seahawks have been road warriors this season, suffering their first loss as the visiting team against the Rams. The Seahawks have also been vulnerable at home with losses to the Saints and Ravens. This combined with a few blowout losses have been uncharacteristic for the Seahawks during the Pete Carroll era.
That said, CenturyLink Field is one of the biggest home-field advantages in the NFL, and the Seahawks would love to be able to play at least one postseason game in Seattle. Thanks to NFL rules, the NFC West runner-up is likely to play the Cowboys or Eagles on the road during Wild Card weekend. Division winners are guaranteed the top four seeds in the conference and will host the first playoff game even if they have an inferior record when compared to their opponent.
Winning the NFC West also means the 49ers or Seahawks are likely to have a first-round bye. The 49ers take on the Falcons and Rams at home over the next two weeks and will be favored in both matchups. San Francisco can even afford to lose one of these two games if they beat the Seahawks as they would still be able to win the division with a win over the Seahawks in the season finale.
The Seahawks Can Clinch a Playoff Spot With a Week 15 Win Combined With a Rams or Vikings Loss
Seattle can officially punch their ticket to the postseason with a win over the Panthers combined with either a Rams or Vikings loss. Despite the setback against the Rams, Carroll noted the team believes the team can still accomplish all their goals and compared the stretch run to a heavyweight fight.
“Each game is like another round. You try to go as many rounds as you can, if you lose a round, you try not to get knocked out, so that you can come back and battle,” Carroll said, per Seahawks.com. “That’s what it feels like. We’ve got a few rounds left in this season to go ahead and finish. We’ve got to come out slugging and going for it, making good choices, and playing smart. But it’s all there for us.”