Seahawks Playoff Scenarios: Seattle needs help to clinch berth in Week 15
To clinch a playoff berth in Week 14, the Seahawks needed just a win or a tie. They got neither.
Instead, Seattle lost to the Los Angeles Rams 28-12 and dropped its record to 10-3. Rather than owning a playoff spot and the NFC’s No. 1 seed, the Seahawks are the current No. 5 seed and likely need to win out in order to assure they are not going on the road in the wild card round.
Currently, the New Orleans Saints are the only NFC team to have clinched a playoff spot.
Last week, there were just two simple scenarios for Seattle to clinch a playoff berth. This week, there are four ways that can happen – and all require some help from other NFC teams.
Here are the four scenarios:
1) Win and a Los Angeles loss
The Seahawks travel to Carolina to take on a Panthers team that has lost five straight games, is without starting quarterback Cam Newton and recently fired head coach Ron Rivera. If Seattle wins, one scenario to clinch would be for the Rams to lose or tie a road contest with the Dallas Cowboys.
Dallas currently sits atop the NFC East, but the Cowboys are just 6-7 and have lost three straight contests.
Seahawks fans have another reason to keep a close eye on this one. If the Seahawks finish the regular season as the NFC’s No. 5 seed, it’s almost guaranteed they would face the winner of the NFC East, which will be either Dallas or the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Seahawks beat the Cowboys in the regular season last year but lost in Dallas in the wild card round.
2) Win and a Minnesota loss
Another of Seattle’s recent opponents losing would benefit the Seahawks on Sunday.
The Vikings travel to Los Angeles and take on the city’s other team, the 5-8 Chargers.
Minnesota bounced back from their Week 13 loss to the Seahawks with a 20-7 win over the Lions, but the Chargers are also coming off a win, a 45-10 beatdown of the Jacksonville Jaguars.
3) Win and a Green Bay loss and Minnesota tie
This one is unlikely, but here it is.
If the Seahawks beat the Panthers and the Green Bay Packers lose to the Chicago Bears at home, the Vikings would need to tie with the Chargers in the later slate of games for Seattle to clinch a playoff berth.
The Packers are 10-3 and lead the NFC North while the Bears are 7-6 and need to keep winning to keep their playoff hopes alive.
Ties are pretty infrequent in the NFL. Only 25 games have ended in ties since overtime was introduced in 1974.
Overtime rules have changed since then, such as in 2012 when it was established that if the team that had the ball first in overtime scored a field goal on their very first drive, the other team would get one possession.
The rules changed again in 2017, this time shortening the period to 10 minutes rather than 15.
4) Tie and a Los Angeles loss
Again, this is unlikely as there just aren’t many ties – though the Lions and Arizona Cardinals tied in Week 2 this season, and the Seahawks themselves had a memorable tie with Arizona in 2016.
If the Seahawks and Panthers tie, the only way Seattle could clinch a playoff berth this week is if the Rams lose to the Cowboys.
It’s a little trickier than it was last week, but having more options is better, right?
More Seahawks coverage
• The 3 Questions: How can Seahawks bounce back against Carolina?
• Gallant: Are the Seahawks’ problems worse than their competition in NFC?
• Huard: Seahawks’ offense getting on track more critical now than defense
• Heaps: Seahawks had 3 big missed opportunities on offense
• Wyman: Breaking down Seahawks’ defensive struggles with the Rams