How Seattle Could Go From Champions To Missing The Play-offs
In each of the last 2 seasons it has happened, The Baltimore Ravens went from champion to 8-8 and the season before The New York Giants went from beating New England to failing to make the postseason with a 9-7 record. This season is shaping up for Seattle to follow suit.
Let's take a look at the remaining 10 weeks and analyze what games will make or break Seattle's season.
Six teams make the play-offs in each conference, the winner of each of the four divisions and the two best remaining records get in as Wild Cards. Seattle has to win their division or be one of the best 2 remaining teams.
There are 11 teams that realistically could make the play-offs in the NFC
- Green Bay
- New Orleans
- San Francisco
Before we get too far into this, let's take a look at the play-off seeding if the season ended today.
#1 Dallas Cowboys (6-1)
#2 Arizona Cardinals (5-1)
#3 Detroit Lions (5-2)
#4 Carolina Panthers (3-3-1)
#5 Philadelphia Eagles (5-1)
#6 Green Bay Packers (5-2)
Currently San Francisco is 4-3 and Seattle sits at 3-3.
Now let's dissect some remaining schedules, starting with Seattle. Here is what Seattle's remaining 10 games look like:
Week 8: at Carolina
Week 9: Oakland
Week 10: New York Giants
Week 11: at Kansas City
Week 12: Arizona
Week 13: at San Francisco
Week 14: at Philadelphia
Week 15: San Francisco
Week 16: at Arizona
Week 17: St. Louis
They have 5 home games left, so let's assume they win those games since they are still very difficult to beat at home. That puts them at 8 wins and 5 very tough road games. The two 'easier' road games are against Carolina and Kansas City, and neither of those are automatic wins. But we'll assume that the defending champions are able to win both of those games, which puts them at 10 wins. Anything less than 10 wins and they aren't making this play-offs, and 10 wins may not guarantee that either.
So assuming that they don't trip up in those two previously mentioned away games or lose any of their remaining home games, Seattle's post season hopes will come down to three games (at San Francisco, at Philadelphia, at Arizona). For now, let's assume they lose those three tough road games and move forward with the defending Champions finishing at 10-6.
Arizona holds a 2 game advantage on Seattle right now, so even if they went 5-5 over their last 10 games, The Cardinals would be 10-6. Meanwhile The 49ers are getting players back on defense and should be able to win at least 4 of their 5 remaining home games (St. Louis, Washington, Seattle, San Diego, and Arizona). Those four wins would give San Francisco 8 wins with Road games against New Orleans, New York Giants, Oakland and Seattle left. The 49ers should win 2 if not 3 of those games, putting them at 10-6 or 11-5.
If all three teams finished at 10-6, it would come down to tie breakers. In this scenario, all 3 of these teams split their head to head matchups, meaning that division record would decide. That would mean that Seattle's untimely Week 7 loss in St. Louis could put them on the wrong side of that tie breaker.
We have ruled out Seattle winning their division, so now their 10-6 record needs to be be on of the best two non-division winning record, and one of their division mates already has a better record than they do in that fight for the Wild Card spots.
The NFC South will likely only field 1 play-off team because even if Carolina beats Seattle in week 8, they have 2 games against New Orleans, one at Philadelphia and one at Atlanta. Which means that if they beat Atlanta at home and win against Minnesota, Tampa Bay and Cleveland they are looking at an 8-7-1 finish. New Orleans could win easily win 8 to 10 games the rest of the year or only win 4 more and finish at 6-10. Regardless of which way they finish, The Saints are either NFC South Champions or miss the play-offs. Atlanta's best case is likely 8-8 with road games in Green Bay, Carolina, and New Orleans still on the schedule. In short, the NFC South poses no threat to Seattle's play-off hopes.
The NFC North (Green Bay, Detroit) and NFC East (Philadelphia, Dallas) look like they have two teams that could potentially put up double digit win totals. If Seattle isn't going to win their division, they need to leapfrog not one, but BOTH of these teams to make the play-offs. (Remember, in this scenario even at 10-6 they are behind Arizona and San Francisco in their own division).
Green Bay could lose in New Orleans this week and at home to Philadelphia and New England (not likely to lose all three, but it could happen) and still win 11 games. The Packers have home games against Chicago, Atlanta and Detroit which should be wins as well as winnable road games against Minnesota, Buffalo and Tampa Bay. So Even though Seattle beat Green Bay on opening night, it looks like they will finish ahead of Seattle as well.
Detroit has proven that they can hang with just about any team, but can also lose to just about any team. Which means that they will likely got 4-0 at home (Miami, Chicago, Tampa Bay, Minnesota) and potentially steal 2 of their 5 road games (Atlanta, Arizona, New England, Chicago, Green Bay). However, for Seattle's sake, lets say Detroit loses all five games on the road, they will finish 9-7 one game behind Seattle.
So as of right now, Seattle is clasping on to that #6 Seed with only the NFC East to go. They will need to finish ahead of either Philadelphia or Dallas in order to make the play-offs.
Philadelphia plays three tough road games (Arizona, Green Bay and Dallas), but also have 5 very winnable games, 1 on the road (Houston) and 4 at home (Carolina, Tennessee, Washington, New York Giants). So if Philadelphia wins those 5 games and loses their 3 tough road games, that still gets them at 10 wins with two home games unaccounted for; Seattle and Dallas. We assumed earlier that The Eagles beat Seattle in Philadelphia, which would give Philadelphia the tie breaker on Seattle if they were to finish with the same record, but in our calculations here would be enough for an 11th win which would be enough to pass Seattle for that wild card spot should Philadelphia not win the NFC East.
Dallas currently has 6 wins and only needs 5 more to get to 11 wins (6+5=11, this is the hard hitting math you get from me). 11 Wins is more than the 10 we are projecting Seattle to have (Yes, 11 is greater than 10, but go ahead call your grade school math teacher to confirm... I'll wait).
Now that you are satisfied with my math, we will continue forward. Except for the fact that Dallas holds the tie breaker on Seattle, so technically they only need 10 wins (4 more games). We already have Philadelphia at 11 wins without projecting either Dallas-Philadelphia game as a win, so if Dallas gets 4 wins then both teams will be ahead of Seattle. That would mean that no matter who won the NFC East, the other would have a play-off spot in front of Seattle. Dallas plays Jacksonville, Chicago, and New York Giants once each and Washington twice. Those are 5 games they should win and if not they still have Philadelphia twice and home games against Arizona and Indianapolis. Dallas should have no problems getting to 10 wins and finishing ahead of Seattle.
I took a run through all the games based on the information used above plus predicting some of the games we didn't predict (Typically in divisional games with similar talented teams, the home team won)
|San Francisco 49ers||(11-5-0)|
|St. Louis Cardinals||(4-12-0)|
|New Orleans Saints||(10-6-0)|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||(2-14-0)|
|Green Bay Packers||(13-3-0)|
|New York Giants||(6-10-0)|
The Play-off picutre would look like this:
#1 Green Bay Packers (13-3)
#2 Philadelphia Eagles (13-3)
#3 San Francisco 49ers (11-5)
#4 New Orleans Saints (10-6)
#5 Dallas Cowboys (12-4)
#6 Arizona Cardinals (11-5)
In order for Seattle to make the play-offs they need to go 8-2 over their last 10 games which would mean beating everyone they are supposed to beat and stealing a game on the road from Philadelphia, San Francisco or Arizona.
The season is not over for The Seahawks, and they will likely still win 10 games, unfortunately those 10 games may not be enough to have a chance to repeat as Super Bowl Champions.