(Updated Nov. 30)
Two-thirds of the way through the season, the Seahawks are right where they need to be: in control of their postseason destiny (which apparently is a surprise to almost everyone but us). If they win out to finish 11-5, they will make it in.
But what happens if they drop a game and land at 10-6? That’s where they would need a couple of things to fall their way — but the odds still would stack highly in their favor.
The Hawks face two more tough games — the Vikings and Chiefs, both in Seattle — and a loss in one of them seems likely (we expect the Hawks to sweep the 49ers and beat the Cardinals again). Obviously, the Minnesota game is much more important because the Vikings (6-4-1) are competing against the Hawks for an NFC playoff spot.
The other contenders for the NFC’s two wild-card spots are Carolina (6-5) and NFC East clubs Dallas (7-5), Washington (6-5) and Philadelphia (5-6). The East obviously will be decided over the final five weeks, with the Cowboys and Redskins both playing the Eagles.
So, what do the Hawks need to happen if they end up losing a game? Basically, the Vikings would need to lose twice or the Redskins would need to win the East (with Dallas finishing 10-6) or lose the division at 10-6 or worse.
The Vikings could oblige in the next two games as they visit New England this week and Seattle next week. They also play at Detroit and finish with Chicago, so two losses seems pretty feasible. Washington, meanwhile, has to play the rest of the way without injured QB Alex Smith, so it’s pretty hard to see the Redskins running the table.
If Minnesota were to win four of its final five and finish 10-5-1, it would be in position for one wild-card spot. For Seattle to get the other, no other wild-card contender could finish 11-5. And none seems likely to, as Carolina faces New Orleans twice, Dallas (which beat the Saints on Thursday) plays the Eagles and at the Colts, and Washington plays the Eagles twice, plus Tennessee and Jacksonville.
In any 10-6 ties, Seattle owns head-to-head wins over Carolina and Dallas and, assuming the Hawks topped NFC foe Minnesota, would beat or tie Washington in conference games (9-3) and/or win the common-games tiebreaker (5-0 vs. 4-1).
So, whether the Hawks win 10 or 11, they have a strong chance — call it 75 percent — to make the postseason.