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Originally published December 14, 2013 at 7:26 PM | Page modified December 14, 2013 at 10:07 PM

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Are Seahawks likely to earn home-field advantage?

The Seahawks are a good bet to earn the home-field advantage during the NFL playoffs. That’s good news for the Seahawks, who have won 14 straight at CenturyLink Field.


Seattle Times staff report

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Did last week’s loss to the 49ers in San Francisco give you more questions about where this Seahawks’ season is headed?

Well then, you’ve come to right place. You’ve got questions, we’ve got answers:

Q: How strong are the chances that Seattle still gets the No. 1 seed in the NFC and the home-field advantage through the playoffs?

A: About as strong as the discounts you can suddenly get on “Bark for Sark’’ T-shirts. Seattle can wrap up home field with a win this week at New York and a loss or tie by the 49ers at Tampa Bay and a loss by New Orleans at St. Louis. But setting aside what other teams do, Seattle also merely needs to win two of its last three games to get home field. And with home games left against Arizona and St. Louis the following two weeks, the Seahawks still look about as good as Robinson Cano in a Mariner uniform.

Q: How important is home-field advantage in the playoffs, anyway?

A: Maybe not as much as is sometimes thought. As The Denver Post recently detailed, the past eight Super Bowl winners had an average seed of 3.9 (one the highest, six the lowest). The 2005 Steelers (sorry to bring that up) and 2010 Packers each won as six seeds, meaning they won three road games just to get to the Super Bowl, while the 2007 Giants won as a five seed.

The Seahawks, though, have what many regard as the biggest home-field advantage in the NFL, having won 14 in a row at home.

Put another way, PreGame.com detailed this week that since 2005, Seattle is 51-23-1 (69 percent) against the spread at home — and that’s with the point spreads usually factoring in a significant home-field edge for the Seahawks.

About the best way to have made money in Las Vegas the past eight years is to simply bet on the Seahawks at home.

Q: Aren’t losses late in the season rather worrisome, though?

A: Historically, no. As NFL.com pointed out this week, each of the past five Super Bowl champions lost at least one of their last three regular-season games. That includes last year’s Ravens going 1-4 in their last five and the 2009 Saints losing their last three after a 13-0 start. Not to mention the 2011 Giants going 3-5 in their last eight to barely sneak into the playoffs at 9-7.

The value of momentum heading into the playoffs, it seems, is about as big of a myth as the Pac-12 Networks for anyone who has DirecTV.

Q: Which team would be the most likely first playoff opponent for the Seahawks, anyway?

A: First, a refresher on how the NFL playoff system works. For the opening round, the top two seeds get a bye. The third seed hosts No. 6 and No. 4 hosts No. 5. Then the teams are reseeded, so that the lowest remaining seed plays at the No. 1 seed, and the other winner at the No. 2 seed.

As of today, that means the Seahawks would host either the Detroit Lions (No. 4), Carolina Panthers (No. 5) or San Francisco 49ers (No. 6).

Since the 49ers will most likely be either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed if they make the playoffs that means it’s much more likely the Seahawks would play them in the divisional round than the NFC title game.

For anyone who believes that it’s more difficult for a team to beat another three times in a season, then maybe there’s another silver lining from last week’s loss.

Q: Have the Seahawks ever had to do that before?

A: Yes they have, and it didn’t go so well. Seattle got the first playoff berth in franchise history in 1983 in large part thanks to two regular-season wins against the Raiders.

But after the famous upset win at Miami to get to the AFC title game, the Seahawks were blasted by the Raiders in Los Angeles, 30-14.

Seattle, though, also lost the only time it played a team in the playoffs it had already lost to twice, in 2004, when the Rams came to CenturyLink and beat the Seahawks 27-20 in the wild-card round.

History is more favorable to Seattle in years it played playoff games against teams which it split in the regular season. In 1983, Seattle beat Denver at home, 31-17, and in 1984 it beat the Raiders, 13-7.

Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or bcondotta@seattletimes.com.

On Twitter @bcondotta



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