To clinch a playoff spot, the Seahawks need a win. Or perhaps a tie. Or maybe just a few key losses from other teams in the NFC.
It’s simple, really. Or not. It all depends on what happens around the conference.
Seattle could have clinched a postseason berth last Sunday with a win over the 49ers in Santa Clara, California.
That didn’t happen, but quarterback Russell Wilson was still optimistic afterward.
“Where we want to go didn’t stop today,” he said. “(It) wasn’t going to stop next week or hopefully wasn’t going to stop the last week.”
The Seahawks (8-6) chances to make the playoffs are still 96 percent, according to fivethirtyeight.com, heading into Sunday’s big matchup with the Chiefs at CenturyLink Field.
Seahawks Gameday pregame begins at 4 p.m. Sunday on Q13 FOX, official home of the Seattle Seahawks.
But a win this week against Kansas City alone won’t be enough to clinch a playoff spot. That’s because the Chiefs are an AFC team, and one of the key tiebreakers is wins within the conference.
That’s why a win against the 49ers would have gotten the Seahawks in. It’s also why a win over the Cardinals in the season finale could do it.
“There’s no panic mode,” Wilson said. “I think our heads are down and ready to work, and that was going to be our mentality either way, because that’s the way it has to be.”
That said, the Seahawks could still make the playoffs without even winning another game. In fact, fivethirtyeight puts the odds of Seattle getting in with an 8-8 record at 58 percent.
Here’s a breakdown of the most likely scenarios:
Seahawks beat the Chiefs and the Cardinals.
They finish 10-6 overall, 8-4 in conference and clinch the No. 5-seed in the NFC.
Seahawks lose to the Chiefs but beat the Cardinals.
They finish 9-7 overall and 8-4 in conference. They clinch a playoff spot but need some help to get the No. 5-seed. Two losses from Minnesota or Dallas would likely do that.
Seahawks beat the Chiefs but lose to the Cardinals.
They finish 9-7 overall and 7-5 in conference. They clinch a playoff spot with a Washington loss or tie, or one Minnesota loss. The Vikings or Cowboys would likely need to lose twice, however, for Seattle to get the No. 5-seed.
Seahawks lose to both the Chiefs and the Cardinals.
They finish 8-8 overall and 7-5 in conference. This is not the preferred route to the playoffs for Seattle, but as stated earlier, there is still a good chance the Seahawks get in. Two losses by the Vikings and a loss by either Washington or Philadelphia — who play each other in the final week — and they make it. As long as Washington and Philadelphia don’t tie, of course. Two losses by the Cowboys and a Philly or Washington loss would also get the Seahawks in. Conversely, one loss by Washington, combined with another loss by Philadelphia would again do the trick. If both Washington and Philly lose this week, however, a Philly win or a tie in that final game would be preferred. It just gets more complicated from there, but there are more scenarios that get the Seahawks in thanks to tiebreakers such as head-to-head, conference records and strength of opponents.
The Seahawks would also get in with two ties, as unlikely as that is.
As for Wilson, he said the team is simply focused on the task at hand.
“If we want to go where we want to go we have got to be the best when it matters,” he said. “I think that’s what we’re focused on. I believe we can do that for sure.”
One thing is certain: Win, lose or draw, the odds are in their favor.