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Seahawks Playoff Chances: What stands in front of Seattle

Dec 14, 2022, 11:54 AM

Seattle Seahawks...

Seahawks QB Geno Smith and teammates gather in the huddle during a Dec. 11, 2022 game. (Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

(Photo by Jane Gershovich/Getty Images)

Come Thursday night, following a highly-lauded matchup between division rivals San Francisco and Seattle, the fog hanging over the Seahawks’ playoff chances will hopefully clear up.

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With Carolina’s upset win Sunday over Seattle, anchored by the Panthers’ nearly 40 minutes of possessing the football, the Seahawks (7-6 record) are outside of the playoff pack for the first time in over two months, a mere half-game behind the Washington Commanders (7-5-1) and the New York Giants (7-5-1) for the NFC’s final playoff spot with four weeks to go.

The San Francisco 49ers currently boast a 74% chance of winning the NFC West for the second time in the last 10 years, according to PlayoffStatus.com, and only an approximate 4% chance of being a wild card team.

If San Francisco beats the Seahawks in Seattle on Thursday, the 49ers will clinch the division, forcing Seattle to fight amongst the back half of the NFC East for a wild card spot.

The Seahawks fell to the 49ers on the road 27-7 earlier this year, but that was a much different Seattle squad.

Seahawks’ final three games

If an upset is not in the works come Thursday, leaving Seattle with a 7-7 record and loser of four of its last five games, the battle-worn Hawks could still right the ship with wins in its final two games of the season. Including Thursday, the Seahawks have four games left, with the 10-3 Kansas City Chiefs coming up in Week 16. Seattle only has a 34% chance of beating the 49ers and 24% chance against Kansas City, according to NBC Sports Edge, but the Seahawks will end their season against the New York Jets (7-6) and Los Angeles Rams (4-9).

The Jets rank sixth in points allowed and third in yards allowed, but injuries to their defensive line and crippling quarterback questions make that a winnable game for Seattle. The Seahawks have a 55% chance of winning the matchup, and they also have the benefit of playing at home for four of the final five games of the season.

Week 18, if it comes down to it, is against the Rams. Despite having won the Super Bowl last season, the Rams have been ready for the offseason since Week 8 even though they have no coveted draft pick to look forward to (much like Seattle receiving Denver’s first-round pick for the Russell Wilson trade, the Rams’ first-rounder is going to Detroit for the Matthew Stafford trade).

A speculative 9-8 Seahawks record may not be enough to make the playoffs, though, leaving Seattle’s fate in the hands of the New York Giants.

Why must New York fall instead of Washington?

If the G-Men lose to the Washington Commanders this week (Washington is currently favored by 4.5 points), New York would have to win two of its last three against Minnesota, Indianapolis and Philadelphia to finish 9-7-1, a half-game better than the predictive 9-8 Seattle record.

Minnesota and Philadelphia are a combined 22-4 this season, even if Minnesota’s 10-3 record looks more and more deceiving each week.

This season has gone far from chalk, but if the Giants (1-4-1 in their last six games) finish 1-3 in the season’s final month, Seattle can leapfrog New York for the NFC’s final playoff spot.

Why New York? If the Giants beat Washington this week, they move to 8-5-1 and the Commanders fall to 7-6-1. Even if Washington loses two in a row (to the Giants and the 49ers) to land at 7-7-1, Washington has two winnable games against Cleveland and Dallas in Week 18.

Dallas, tied for the second-best record in football, is potentially an easy opportunity for a win by Week 18. The Cowboys are only a wild card team because the NFC East is also home to the league-best Philadelphia Eagles (12-1). By Week 18, Dallas could have the fifth spot locked up and opt to rest its players, opening a pathway for an easy Washington win.

This is all conjecture and speculation, as any one team can beat another on any given Sunday. But if the football gods fail to be on Seattle’s side over the final stretch, at least Denver (3-10) was eliminated first.

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