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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.



December 17, 2012 at 10:54 AM

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Seahawks' playoff picture decoded

Seattle controls its playoff fate and can earn a playoff berth with one victory in its final two games. Just where the Seahawks would fit into the playoff bracket remains very much up in the air.

Here's a detailed look at what would need to happen for Seattle to earn the various seeds:

Division champ scenarios

No. 1 seed: First-round bye and home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs
Likelihood: Impossible.

The Seahawks are 9-5, the Falcons 12-2. It is impossible for Seattle to pass the Falcons in the conference playoff seeding.

No. 2 seed: First-round bye, home-field advantage in the Divisional Playoffs
Likelihood: Remote.

The Seahawks do not control their own destiny, and to earn that first-round bye, the following would have to occur:

• Seattle would have to win its final two games, defeating San Francisco and St. Louis.

• And the 49ers (10-3-1) would have to lose their final two games against Seattle and Arizona.

• And the Packers (10-4) would have to lose one of their final two games against the Tennessee Titans or Minnesota Vikings.

No. 3 seed: Home-field advantage in wild-card round, facing No. 6 seed
Likelihood: Remote.

The Seahawks do not control their own destiny.

• Seattle would have to go 2-0.

• San Francisco would have to go 0-2.

• The Packers go 2-0.

No. 4 seed: Home-field advantage in wild-card round game against NFC's No. 5 seed
Likelihood: Impossible.

The only way Seattle can possibly win the division is to win its final two games. If the Seahawks do that, they would be assured of having a better record than the team that wins the NFC East.

Wild-card scenarios

No. 5 seed: Road game in wild-card round vs. NFC's No. 4 seed
Likelihood: Strong.

This is by far the most likely scenario for Seattle. The Seahawks will be the No. 5 seed if they go 2-0 over their final two games, but the 49ers win their regular-season finale against Arizona. Seattle will also be the No. 5 seed if it wins only one of its next two games, and the New York Giants either lose one of their final two games or win the NFC East.

No. 6 seed: Road game in wild-card round vs. NFC's No. 3 seed
Likelihood: Low.

There's only one scenario in which Seattle wins one of its final two games and winds up with the No. 6 seed. If the New York Giants win their final two games, but either Dallas or Washington wins the NFC East title, then Seattle and New York would finish tied at 10-6 and the Giants would get the higher seed by virtue of a better conference record.

Footnote: There are scenarios in which Seattle reaches the playoffs without winning either of its final two games, but that would require help from other teams losing.


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