The Seattle Seahawks (11-3) have posted another winning season with quarterback Russell Wilson and are headed to the NFC playoffs for the second straight year. They hold the No. 1 seed and home-field advantage with only two weeks left in the 2019 regular season, but that position is far from secure.
The Seahawks’ record is matched by the Packers, Saints and 49ers. They lead the NFC West by only a head-to-head tiebreaker and they host the 49ers for a rematch in Week 17.
Sporting News breaks down all the scenarios at play for the Seahawks in the NFL playoff picture, including the races for the NFC’s top seed, divisional title and wild card based on the results of Weeks 16 and 17.
MORE: Projecting the AFC, NFC playoff matchups
NFL playoff picture: How the Seahawks get the No. 1 seed in the NFC
Should the Seahawks win out against the Cardinals and 49ers at home, they would be 13-3. That would make them division champions and the 49ers settle for the wild card.
But the reason they are No. 1 over the No. 2 NFC North-leading Packers and No. 3 NFC South-winning Saints is the fact it’s a three-way tie. The Seahawks have the edge over the Packers because of a common-games tiebreaker and, for the moment, the Saints are a half-game behind the other two in conference record (8-3).
If all three teams finish 2-0 and end up 13-3, there would be no change in the status quo. But if it’s just the Seahawks and the Saints winning out and the Packers do not, then the Seahawks drop to No. 2 because of having lost to the Saints. The Packers (at Vikings, at Lions) and the Saints (at Titans, at Panthers) at worst should go 1-1, given their remaining schedules.
If the Seahawks also go 1-1 — losing to the Cardinals but beating the 49ers — they would still be division champs, either by a game or head-to-head tiebreaker, only at 12-4. Should the Packers and Saints also finish 12-4, the Seahawks also get the No. 1 seed.
The Seahawks don’t have total control of the situation, and in a weird way, on top of taking care of their own business, they want to root for the two teams behind them both doing whatever they do — not be left in a one-on-one situation with the Saints.
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How the Seahawks get the No. 2 or No. 3 seed in NFC
The Seahawks would be the No. 2 if they win the NFC West at either 13-3 or 12-4 and are even with only the Saints and not the Packers, too. The Seahawks would drop to No. 3 if they go 1-1 to win the NFC West should both the Packers and Saints win out to be each a full game ahead of them at 13-3.
How the Seahawks get the No. 5 or No. 6 seed in NFC
The Seahawks can drop here in one of two ways — losing out or beating the Cardinals but losing to the 49ers. Going 0-2 and dropping to 11-5, they would lose the division by a full game or two games to the 49ers. Going 1-1 that way to finish 12-4, they would lose the division by a full game or a head-to-head tiebreaker
Should the Seahawks not win the division at 11-5, the Vikings, who lost to them, can push them to No. 6 if they win out to get to 12-4 as the top wild card, assuming the Packers beat the Lions in Week 17 to still take the NFC North. Should the Seahawks not win the division at 12-4, they would be No. 5 no matter what. They have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Vikings should that team win out and the Packers can be only a wild card No. 6 at 11-5.