I still desperately want the Seahawks to make the playoffs, but it'd be nice if they got to 8-8 and avoided the eternal label of WORST PLAYOFF TEAM EVER (hell, Football Outsiders is tracking this right now). Three of the four previous 8-8 playoff teams even WON a playoff game (we were victimized by the 8-8 2004 Rams.. Remember? Catch the ball, Bobby!).
The (pretty sad) truth is that the Seahawks can probably take the NFC West with a win over Carolina and a win over St. Louis in week 17. Yup. 7-9 will probably do it. Here's why:
Seattle has three major advantages in this division race going into the last 5 games:
1. They still get to play Carolina (STL already notched their win over the Panthers)
2. They have a 3-1 divisional record
3. They get STL at home on the season's final Sunday
So let's game this out- First, you can eliminate the Cardinals (duh) and even the Niners. San Fran has lost Frank Gore, and still has road games against Green Bay, San Diego, and St. Louis- Even without a loss to Seattle, that's 10 L's.
Here's STL's next 4 games: @AZ, @NO, KC, SF- I'll say they go W, L, L, W (2-2). That puts them at 7-8 going into week 17.
Let's be pessimistic and say the Hawks beat Carolina, but then lose 3 straight to SF, ATL and TB. They'd be 6-9, but still in a "win and in" situation against STL. Why? Seattle would split the season series with the Rams with a final Sunday win, making the next tiebreaker divisional record- Seattle would win THAT tiebreaker, since STL would then be 3-3 in the NFC West (and the Hawks would be 4-2).
The craziest thing? Unless Seattle or St. Louis has a 2-game lead after week 16 (super unlikely), that last game will decide the division. If the Rams come into the final Sunday a game BEHIND Seattle, they can force a tie with a win at Qwest, and take the division based on a head-to-head sweep. So, weirdly- If the teams are tied after week 15, the week 16 games (STL v SF and TB v SEA) will almost certainly be MEANINGLESS (in terms of deciding the division). Crazy, no?
Of course this gets ALL fucked up if the Seahawks lose to Carolina or the Niners pull the monumental upset at Lambeau this Sunday. But the bottom line is this: If the Seahawks beat the 1-10 Panthers on Sunday, they are virtually guaranteed a chance to win the NFC West at Qwest on January 2nd.
Feel free to challenge my assumptions or correct my math in the comments, fellow Twelves.