NFC Wild Wild West Regular Season Conclusion – Who Will Wear The Crown?

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With a win over the Carolina Panthers last Sunday coupled with the Los Angeles Rams losing later in the day, the Seahawks are officially going to the 2019 NFL Playoffs. What we don’t know yet, is what seed they will have or if they will be hosting any playoff games. Currently, Seattle is the top seed in the NFC, and if they win out they will host any playoff games they participate in prior to the Super Bowl. In their relatively short NFL life, Seattle has only made it to the Super Bowl if they were the NFC #1 seed, so winning out would put history on their side in getting them back to the biggest game of the year. 

Standing in their way of the top seed are their final two regular season opponents, the Arizona Cardinals, and the San Francisco 49ers. Arizona is already eliminated from the playoffs, and now gets the chance to play spoiler to Seattle – and they have the firepower to do it so Seattle had better not overlook them. San Francisco hosts the Rams this week, and then travels to Seattle for a week 17 showdown that will decide the division champion as well as officially crown the conference’s top seed. As things stand currently, the winner of their week 17 game would be the #1 seed, and the loser would fall to a wild card slot, and how far that second teams falls depends on the final records of Green Bay and Minnesota as the loser of their matchup this coming Monday night will help decide who wins the division and who falls to the other wild card slot. Minnesota has not officially clinched a spot yet as they are two games in front of the Rams, but if LA loses to SF this weekend, Minnesota would clinch their spot Sunday before hosting Green Bay on Monday. If Green Bay were to win out and Seattle and San Francisco were each to lose one game, Green Bay would be the top seed in the NFC playoffs.

Let me explain – (….) no there is too much. Let me sum up – there is a lot that can happen in the next two weeks and at least five teams that can impact the outcome. Seattle, Green Bay, New Orleans, and San Francisco have identical 11-3 records, and Minnesota stands just outside the circle at 10-4. Seattle beat San Francisco and Minnesota, San Francisco beat Green Bay and New Orleans, Green Bay beat Minnesota, and New Orleans beat Seattle. So it’s a giant cluster of tiebreakers this thing could boil down to if the log jam continues. Even the Rams at 8-6 have a bearing on the outcome, believe it or not

This week, Seattle hosts Arizona, while San Francisco hosts the Rams, Minnesota hosts Green Bay, and New Orleans travels to Tennessee. All eyes will be on the Monday night matchup between the Packers and Vikings, as the Packers could wrap up the NFC North with a win, or they could give the Vikings extra room to breathe if they lose. San Francisco and Seattle are destined to battle for the division crown in week 17 regardless of what happens this week, as neither can separate themselves enough with a win and can’t lose enough ground with a loss. It’s going to be decided next week, this weekend is just for fun and extra tiebreakers. 

It would take something near miraculous for New Orleans or Minnesota to grab the #1 seed, but either could push their way in to the #2 spot with relative ease, as long as they win out and get some help from their conference rivals. 

San Francisco is on something of a cold streak, and lost what was an iron grip on the division after starting out 8-0, only to go 3-3 in their last six.Their inexcusable loss to Atlanta last week sank their chances of locking up anything early, as they will need to win out in order to win the division. For what it’s worth, the 49ers haven’t won consecutive games since they had to start finally playing teams outside their division with winning records back in week 12, and will need to pull off wins over the angry Rams and the surging Seahawks if they want to regain their standing at the top. They get to host the Rams this Saturday before travelling up to CenturyLink field for a Sunday Night showdown next weekend to cap off the regular season. 

Seattle hasn’t hosted a playoff game since 2016, and they haven’t advanced beyond the divisional round since the 2014 playoffs, when they went as far as the Super Bowl. We’re in the peak years of Russell Wilson’s career now, and we need to see if he can take this team on a deep playoff run without an elite running back or a top-5 defense. Right now he has a fighting chance every week, but an embarrassing loss to the Rams two weeks ago and a frustratingly close win over Carolina last week has this team still searching for its true colors. A classic trap game versus Arizona awaits this weekend, and if they get past that, it’s just down to them and the 49ers for a shot at homefield advantage throughout the playoffs. While there are several intimidating atmospheres around the NFL, the mystique of CenturyLink is on another level when the Seahawks get to host games with everything on the line, and their fans working themselves in to ear shattering frenzies in the cold dark rain and gloom of the Seattle bay. 

While it may sound impossible, the Rams are not out of the playoff picture even though they can only finish 10-6. Minnesota has a weaker conference record, so if the Vikings manage to lose their final two games while the Rams win out, it will be LA in the playoffs as a wild card and the Vikings watching from home – while the winner of the NFC East goes on to the postseason whether they have a winning record or not. Good luck explaining how that’s fair. 

By the time the final whistle blows on the evening of December 29th, we’ll know where all the teams stand. We’ll know the results of Seattle-San Francisco, which will help us understand where every team stands in the postseason picture. As it stands right now, if Seattle and Green Bay win out, they will be the #1 and #2 seeds, and earn first round byes. But what’s crazy is that if San Francisco wins out, they will be the #1 seed. And if New Orleans and Minnesota win out, they could still get the #1 or # 2 seed. Essentially, any team currently in the playoff hunt in the NFC other than Dallas, Philadelphia, and LA have a shot at the top two seeds, and need to do their parts and win out to get there. But with four of the teams at the top meeting in the next two weeks, someone is going to be disappointed and get knocked down a peg, that we know for sure. 

We’ll just have to watch the games and see where everyone lands once the dust settles. 

So have fun, enjoy the end of the regular season, and what should be some playoff type games just to get in.

Wishing happy holidays and a happy new year to all, see you in 2020!

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About Author

Casey Mabbott

Casey Mabbott is a writer and podcast host born and raised in West Philadelphia where he spent most of his days on the basketball court perfecting his million dollar jumpshot. Wait, no, that’s all wrong. Casey has spent his entire life here in the Pacific NorthWest other than his one year stint as mayor of Hill Valley in an alternate reality 1985. He’s never been to Philadelphia, and his closest friends will tell you that his jumpshot is the farthest thing from being worth a million bucks. Casey enjoys all sports and covering them with written words or spoken rants. He has made an art of movie references, and is a devout follower of 80's movies and music. I don't know why you would to, but you can probably find him on the street corner waiting for the trolley to take him to the stadium or his favorite pub, where he will be telling people the answers to questions they don’t remember asking. And it only goes downhill from there if he drinks. He’s a real treat.

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