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Replacement ref finale looms over NFC wild-card chase

Laurie Larson

Green Bay Packers fan Laurie Larson holds up a sign in reference to a called made by the replacemeents referees that decided Monday’s night game between the Packrs and the Seahawks before an NFL football game Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012 in Green Bay, Wis. between the Packers and the New Orleans Saints. (AP Photo/Mike Roemer)


When the replacement officials snatched defeat from the jaws of a Green Bay victory to cap Week Three, the presumption was that the extra loss could impact the Packers’ postseason positioning.

While it still could, keeping the Packers from winning the NFC North or securing a bye, there’s another significant consequence of that game. The win that the Seahawks didn’t deserve could throw a wrench into the NFC wild-card field.

Currently, the Seahawks are 6-4. They should be 5-5. And if the Seahawks end up securing the sixth seed via that one extra win, the No. 7 team rightfully should be upset, whether it’s Tampa Bay or New Orleans or Minnesota or Washington or someone else.

If it’s the Saints, the league office’s late January visit to New Orleans for Super Bowl XLVII will be even more uncomfortable. One thing we’ve learned over the last several years is that any team that gets a seat at the playoff table can run the table.

Thus, the last thing the league needs is to have the Seahawks get that seat at the exclusion of a hot team that could be this year’s version of the 2005 Steelers, the 2007 Giants, or the 2010 Packers -- all wild-card teams who parlayed a skin-of-their-teeth postseason appearance into a Super Bowl win.

Especially if that hot team that gets the cold shoulder ends up being the Saints.