Seahawks take over fifth spot in NFC playoff standings

Dec 13, 2015, 7:37 PM | Updated: Dec 14, 2015, 10:11 am
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have a tiebreaker advantage over Minnesota for the NFC’s fift...
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks have a tiebreaker advantage over Minnesota for the NFC's fifth seed. (AP)
(AP)

The Seahawks took over the fifth spot in the NFC playoff standings with their win over Baltimore on Sunday, making a trip to the East Coast for their first postseason game all the more likely.

The Seahawks entered Sunday holding the conference’s sixth and final spot and a half game behind Minnesota for the fifth seed, but their win gave them an identical 8-5 record as the Vikings. Head-to-head record is the first tie-breaker for wild-card seeding, so the Seahawks currently have the edge by virtue of their win over Minnesota last week.

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The Seahawks are in all likelihood looking at one of the two wild-card spots as Arizona has all but locked up the NFC West title. Tampa Bay, Atlanta and Philadelphia are all two games back at 6-7 with three games to play, so Minnesota represents Seattle’s biggest challenge for the fifth spot.

The Seahawks have won six of their last seven games and should be heavily favored in their next two before facing Arizona in the regular-season finale. Minnesota is trending the opposite direction and still has to play at Green Bay in Week 17, all of which points to the likelihood of Seattle finishing as the fifth seed.

That’s significant because of who the Seahawks would play in the wild-card round. The fifth seed plays on the road against the fourth seed, which will almost certainly be the winner of the NFC East. No team in that division currently has a winning record, with Washington leading at 6-7 over Philadelphia (also 6-7) and the Giants (5-7), who play Miami on Monday night.

The sixth seed, meanwhile, would play at the third seed, which will likely be the winner of the NFC North. The Packers lead that division by a game over Minnesota, which they’ve already beaten and host in Week 17.

So holding onto the fifth seed as opposed to settling for the sixth would likely mean the difference between a wild-card matchup with an NFC East team that may not be above .500 or the Packers at Lambeau Field. That makes Seattle’s victory over Baltimore on Sunday all the more significant.

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