\We’ve reached the final quarter of the NFL season, and things are set up nicely for the Seattle Seahawks (10-2).
I’d say this is getting simpler for Seahawks fans, however it feels like the entire city of Seattle is torn over who to root for on Sunday’s marquee matchup between the 49ers and Saints. Both teams are 10-2 and the Seahawks would benefit from each team winning in different ways.
Here’s a full breakdown of what’s ahead in the NFL’s Week 14 slate.
1. New Orleans Saints (vs. San Francisco 49ers)
Let me just start with saying that I believe Seahawks fans should be in this camp. Winning the NFC West is priority No. 1 because a first-round bye is crucial. Yes, the Cowboys look awful. Yes, the Eagles look abysmal. However, you absolutely don’t want to go on the road to play either of those teams on Wildcard weekend.
Besides, even as the No. 2 seed, it’s possible the Saints drop their Divisional Round game which would allow Seattle to host the NFC Championship Game.
A Saints win and a Seahawks win would give Seattle a one-game edge in the division. Then let’s assume that both the 49ers and Seahawks win in Weeks 15 and 16. That would mean Seattle enters Week 17 at 13-2 with San Francisco at 12-3. Should the 49ers win, the two teams would split their head-to-head matchups and have identical records against common opponents. It would then come down to strength of victory, which is shaping up nicely for Seattle. More on that in a second.
2. San Francisco 49ers (at New Orleans Saints)
I think it takes a Russell Wilson-level of optimism in order to pull for the 49ers on Sunday morning. I get it, in order for Seattle to get the No. 1 seed, New Orleans would have to drop one more game as it owns the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Seahawks. However, Seahawks fans should just hope that the Colts, Titans or Panthers are able to pull off an upset in Weeks 15-17.
A 49ers loss would give the Seahawks the ability to drop two games against the Rams, Panthers and Cardinals and still control their own destiny in Week 17. A 49ers win would almost ensure that the Week 17 matchup decides who wins the NFC West and who goes on the road to Dallas or Philadelphia in the first round. Again, I doubt the joy of the No. 1 seed would match the disappointment of coming in second in the NFC West. All that said, it’s still up to you for who you decide to pull for.
3. Minnesota Vikings (vs. Detroit Lions)
OK so in the hypothetical situation that the Seahawks and 49ers enter Week 17 at 13-2 and 12-3, respectively, the game could potentially be meaningless. San Francisco winning to give each team a 13-3 record would lead to the strength of victory tiebreaker.
To put it simply, the Seahawks would need the Vikings (8-4) and Eagles (5-7) to have a better record than the Redskins (3-9) and Packers (9-3) as those are the non-common opponents for Seattle and San Francisco.
Right now the Vikings and Eagles have a combined record of 13-11, which is one game better than the 12-12 combined record of the Packers and Redskins. Philadelphia losing to the Dolphins last Sunday didn’t do the Seahawks any favors. The Packers and Redskins play each other this weekend so those teams will go 1-1 barring a tie, of course. That means wins for Minnesota and Philadelphia would add a game of breathing room.
4. Philadelphia Eagles (vs. New York Giants)
In addition to everything I just laid out above, the Eagles winning would be a positive for any Seahawks fan who would rather play Philadelphia than Dallas should Seattle have to go on the road in the Wildcard Round.