After an almost unfathomably favorable Sunday of NFL results, the Seahawks are now two games out of the final NFC Wild Card spot with four games to play. Seattle's playoff probabilities have risen up to 6.5%, which doesn't sound high, but it's risen up from 1.3% just two weeks ago. The Seahawks wouldn't be MATHEMATICALLY eliminated by a single loss during this final month, but realistically Seattle needs to go 4-0 to keep their playoff hopes viable.
The best way to look at things now? The Seahawks are now playing in the "NFC WILD CARD DIVISION," and these are the current standings
It's important to remember that the Seahawks only need to finish 2nd in this division to make the playoffs, NOT 1st. It's very plausible for the Seahawks to climb into 3rd in this division if they can beat the Rams and Bears over the next two weeks. Thanks to the magic of the ESPN Playoff Machine, we know that if the Seahawks end up in a multi-team tiebreaker at 9-7, they will almost certainly get into the postseason (based on having the best conference record).
There's another bit of drama going on too, though- Seattle will (thankfully) not be crappy enough to be in position to draft Andrew Luck or Matt Barkley (if he declares for the draft). That doesn't mean that we won't (or shouldn't) try to make a trade to acquire Barkley (I don't see the Colts parting with the #1 pick under any circumstances). Our best shot at completing a trade into the #2 slot to take Barkley? If the team picking 2nd is an non-divisional rival who very recently spent a 1st-rounder on a QB. Thus, it follows that we should root for the Minnesota Vikings (or the Jacksonville Jaguars) to "beat" the St. Louis Rams for the #2 pick in the draft.
With all this in mind, here's who you should be rooting for in next week's games, and why...
-Broncos over Bears: I'm not really digging having to root for Tebow, but if the Broncos cooperate here we can pull ahead of Chicago in the Wild Card Division with wins in our next two games. Get your Tebowing poses ready!
-Panthers over Falcons: Yes, Carolina is 4-8, but they are at home and they have played a number of quality teams very tough this season. If Cam Newton and the Panthers can pull off this upset, the Seahawks' playoff chances will spike unexpectedly.
-Buccaneers over Jaguars: Jacksonville could be a perfect Matt Barkley trade partner for the Seahawks- IF they end up holding the #2 pick in the draft. Root for a loss to Tampa this week.
-Packers over Raiders: Stick with me here- Green Bay plays Chicago and Detroit over the final two weekends. I believe that if they are still going for a perfect season, they will play to win. If not? After they have the #1 seed clinched, they might rest guys. Root for Rodgers and the Pack to go 16-0. Also, fuck the fucking Raiders.
-Vikings at Lions: On one hand, if the Vikings upset the Lions, that gives a big boost to Seattle's 2011 playoff chances. However, that would fuck up my little "Minnesota trades the #2 pick to us, then... BOOM! Matt Barkley!" plan. I prefer to look at this as being good news for us either way.
-Giants at Cowboys: Dallas winning would give them a big NFC East lead, and frankly we want the Cowboys to win this division- While Seattle wins the head-to-head tiebreaker with NYG, we lose it to Dallas. The Giants would fall to 6-7 and into a tie with Seattle after next Monday Night. One could argue that an NYG win could be good news too (both DAL and NYG would be 7-6), but I'll be rooting for the Cowboys to put away Big Blue Sunday Night.
-49ers at Cardinals: A Cardinals loss effectively eliminates them, but so would/will a loss to Seattle in week 17. A Cardinals win would push them further away from possibly holding the #2 pick (which they then wouldn't trade to the Seahawks). I'll be weakly rooting for the Niners, given that we can't win the West, and the sooner Arizona's hopes are dashed, the better.
What do you think, sirs? Am I missing anything big?