The 7-7 Seattle Seahawks have already won as many games as they did all of last season, and there are still three games left. They traded away QB Russell Wilson in the offseason, and that trade currently has them holding the #3 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft. Unless Denver goes nuclear in the next three weeks, it’s likely that pick will remain in the top five.
Seattle does not benefit at all by losing a single game the rest of the season, but there is plenty to play for, and collect as many wins as they can.
Currently in the #8 seed in the NFC Playoffs, Seattle is just a game out of the playoffs right now. If they win this week in Kansas City and get a loss from Washington against San Francisco, they will take over the #7 seed and control their own destiny the rest of the way. A loss would not mathematically eliminate them, but it would mean the next two games are must-win.
San Francisco has already won the division, so a wild card berth is the only way Seattle gets to the postseason this year. Detroit and Green Bay are right on their heels, but those teams play each other in week 18, so one of them will likely be eliminated in that game if they don’t fall off the game board before that.
The Seahawks travel to Kansas City this weekend in the bitter cold for a showdown with the Chiefs. Kansas City is led by MVP candidate QB Patrick Mahomes and a wide-open offense that should make for a fun shootout between two good passing attacks. The Chiefs have a decent running game but nothing terrifying, and their defense is of the “bend but don’t break” variety that gives up a lot of big plays between the 20s before tightening up near the end zone.
The secret to beating the Chiefs is running the ball, keeping Mahomes in the pocket, and finishing drives with touchdowns. The Chiefs have won some tough battles this season, so they know how to get wins even when the other team fights back, but they also can score in bunches if the other team struggles to stop them. The key to beating Seattle is very similar, so we’ll see which side does it better.
When Seattle QB Geno Smith has time to assess the action downfield, he is the top passer this season, but when protection breaks down quickly, we see a very different QB. Geno doesn’t take off and run like he did when he first arrived in the league, but he is a competent runner when he wants to be. If Seattle is going to make noise the last three weeks, it will have to be because Geno led them. When the pass rush starts to break through, Geno needs to find a way out and either get downfield or shift to an open spot so he can reset and pass to an open receiver. The days of just taking sacks when the pocket collapses around him must be long gone. We saw plenty of that Geno last year and don’t want any more visits from that version of him this season.
Right after Seattle takes on the Chiefs in the morning, the 49ers host Washington in the afternoon, who is currently in the #7 seed. If Seattle takes care of business against the Chiefs, by the time their plane lands at home, they could be in the driver’s seat for a playoff spot, assuming the 49ers send the Commanders home unhappy. Seattle needs Washington to lose one more game than they do the rest of the way, or they need to have one of their games end in a tie to match Washington’s record. But then the tiebreaker falls to conference record, which would be a tie also. After that, it’s down to strength of schedule, which might fall to Washington, given that they play in a more competitive division.
Next week Seattle hosts the Jets, who still have a shot at the playoffs, but the window is closing fast in a very tight AFC playoff race. The Jets have a defense that is eerily close to what they saw last week against San Francisco, but their offense is a crap shoot depending on which QB they have out there week to week. It should be a fun game, but Seattle has the tools to win it.
If Seattle can go 2-0 the next two weeks and get at least one loss from Washington, they will be in the #7 seed and, who knows, maybe even climb into #6. Detroit needs to beat them by a game since they lost head-to-head, and we’ll have to see if Green Bay can win in Miami this weekend and make one last push to steal the final playoff spot themselves.
It’s been a rough second half of the season for Seattle, but the light at the end of the tunnel is still there. They just need to play hard and finish strong. This team has talent, good coaching, and there isn’t a team in the NFC that is head and shoulders above the rest of the field, so if they can get in, they have a chance to create some chaos.