Seahawks fans are fortunate that this has become a December tradition: A weekly discussion of playoff scenarios.
We've reached that time of the year with Seattle owning a 10-2 record through Week 13. The Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot in Week 14 with a win or tie against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday Night Football.
But that's not the juicy stuff. Even if Seattle lost each of its final four games, it would likely still be in the postseason. So nobody is celebrating a mere playoff berth at this point. The Seahawks aspirations are far greater.
Nobody in Seattle wants the Seahawks to be a 12- or even 13-win wildcard team playing on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys. Claiming a first-round bye is crucial. Thankfully for Seahawks fans, the 49ers loss in Week 13 gave Seattle some wiggle room. The Seahawks can now lose one of their next three games (Rams, Panthers, Cardinals) and still win the NFC West with a victory over the 49ers in Week 17.
Football Outsiders now gives Seattle a 60.4% chance at winning the division and 59.2% odds at a first-round bye. That is basically saying that it's going to take such a good record to edge the 49ers in the division that it would be near-impossible to do so and end up as the No. 3 or 4 seed in the NFC.
Next up for San Francisco is a road matchup against the Saints, who are also 10-2. Who you root for there depends on your level of optimism in the Seahawks. If you're confident in Seattle running the table, then it would be prudent for Seahawks fans to pull for the 49ers. There's no way Seattle can claim home field advantage without the Saints losing at least one more game given New Orleans owns the tiebreaker against the Seahawks. However, a Saints win would give the Seahawks even more breathing room in the division.
Regardless, Week 17 being a must-win game for Seattle seems inevitable. In a hypothetical situation that has the Seahawks and 49ers each at 13-3 with one loss to each other as well as losses to the Saints and Ravens, you'd be getting into some nitty gritty tiebreaker rules. Essentially, the Eagles (5-7) and Vikings (8-4) would need to finish with a better collective record than the Packers (9-3) and Redskins (3-9). That looks good currently, but it could change over the final four weeks of the season. Best to just handle your own business and not worry about that if you're Seattle.
Seahawks can clinch a playoff spot with win or tie in Week 14 vs. Rams originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest