Seahawks Playoff Seeding: Every way their spot could shake out in Week 17

Dec 28, 2020, 12:00 PM | Updated: 12:00 pm
Seahawks Duane Brown...
The Seahawks can do no worse than the No. 3 seed in the NFC playoffs. (AP)

The Seahawks have settled two things regarding the postseason over the last two weeks.

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First, they clinched a return trip to the playoffs with their 20-15 win over the Washington Football Team on Dec. 20, marking their third postseason berth in a row and ninth in 11 seasons under head coach Pete Carroll.

Then on Sunday, Seattle took down the Los Angeles Rams 20-9 to improve its record to 11-4 and lock up the team’s first NFC West championship since 2016 and fifth under Carroll.

One more thing will be taken care of next Sunday: Seattle’s playoff seeding in the NFC playoff bracket.

As it stands right now, the Seahawks are No. 3 in the conference behind the NFC South champion New Orleans Saints (11-4) and NFC North champion Green Bay Packers (12-3). Since Seattle is a division winner and the NFC East champ will finish with a losing record, the Hawks can do no worse than third. They can better their standing, however, and in fact are still very much in play for the top spot.

Here’s a look at Seattle’s seeding scenarios going into their final regular season game next Sunday against San Francisco.

How the Seahawks can be No. 1

First, the Seahawks must beat the 49ers (6-9) to finish with a 12-4 record.

Then, both the Packers and Saints must lose. Green Bay will be in Chicago to take on the Bears (8-7) while New Orleans will go to Charlotte to face the Carolina Panthers (5-10).

How would that all shake out? In this scenario, the Seahawks and Packers would have better records than the Saints, but Seattle and Green Bay would both be 9-3 in NFC games, which is the first tiebreaker. The next tiebreaker is record against common opponents, and the Seahawks would be 5-0 against San Francisco, Minnesota, Atlanta and Philadelphia while the Packers would be 4-1 against those same teams.

What the No. 1 seed means: A bye in the first round plus home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

How the Seahawks can be No. 2

Once again, the Seahawks would need to win against the 49ers, but there are two paths to the second seed.

The first is if New Orleans loses but Green Bay wins. The Saints would fall to 11-5, the Hawks would finish 12-4 and Green Bay would be alone at the top at 13-3. That’s as clean as it gets this time of year.

The second scenario would pull in some tiebreaking. If New Orleans wins and Green Bay loses, all three teams would be 12-4. And while the Saints lost to Green Bay earlier this season, New Orleans would get the No. 1 spot because a three-way tiebreaker where the involved teams didn’t all play each other throws out head-to-head matchups. So the Saints would have the best record in the conference, making them No. 1, while Seattle would get No. 2 because the Hawks’ NFC record would match Green Bay’s but they would have the advantage in common opponents.

What the No. 2 seed means: A home game against the No. 7 seed in the first round plus home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs in every scenario except if the team plays the No. 1 seed in the conference championship game.

How Seattle would stay at No. 3

This happens if Seattle loses or all three of Seattle, Green Bay and New Orleans win, maintaining the standings where they are going into Week 17.

What the No. 3 seed means: A home game against the No. 6 seed in the first round and home-field advantage if the team plays the No. 4, No. 5 or No. 7 seeds in later rounds.

The Seahawks wrap up the season in a road game at 1:25 p.m. Sunday against San Francisco, though it will take place at State Farm Stadium, the Arizona Cardinals’ home field just outside of Phoenix. The 49ers have been playing their home games there since Week 13 due to COVID-19 restrictions that prevents teams sports from being played in their home county.

Coverage of the Seahawks-49ers game will air on 710 ESPN Seattle and KIRO Radio 97.3 FM beginning with the pregame show at 10 a.m. Sunday.

Follow Brent Stecker on Twitter.

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