Man, that was about as ugly a football game as the Seahawks have played in the Russell Wilson and Pete Carroll era. But while social media yet again plots out the demise of the Seahawks, it is important to remember that the team is still in great shape to make the postseason in 2020. Now, if the Seahawks play as they did against the Giants for the remainder of the season, the playoffs could be in jeopardy. However, the team is still 8-4 and for the first time ever, seven teams from each conference will make the playoffs.
If the Seahawks go 2-2 down the stretch, they're going to make the postseason. However, their seeding is still up in the air. As things currently sit, the Seahawks hold the fifth seed, and depending on how they play the final quarter of the season, they could still earn as high as the second seed in the conference. The top seed, and the only first-round bye this year, appears out of reach for Seattle, as they are now two games back with four to play. But in a year with no fans in the stands, home field advantage has never meant less.
With so much still up in the air, we can't possibly predict who will be their opponent in the Wild Card round. But what we can do is size up the competition. Who presents the "easiest" matchup for the Seahawks? Who would they like to avoid? Let's take a look at the possibilities.
If the Seahawks get a Wild Card spot...
Let's assume for a moment that the Seahawks cannot win their division, a fate that is still very much theirs for the taking. This would land the Seahawks as one of the three wild card teams and thus would send them to face off against the NFC East champion, the Rams, or the Packers. Who is the easiest matchup?
1. New York Giants
As we just saw, there is nothing easy about a suddenly surging Giants team. They have a legitimate defense and are finding their stride in the running game. Daniel Jones has taken some serious strides in recent months and Joe Judge looks to be an excellent head coach. But this doesn't change the fact that they're a limited offensive football team. A run game and defense can carry you a long way, but if you're not elite in either area, you're only as scary as your quarterback.
2. Washington Football Team
Washington gets the edge over the Giants thanks to a ferocious pass rush, a savvy veteran quarterback, and legitimate playmakers like Terry McClaurin and Logan Thomas, as well as running backs J.D. McKissic and Antonio Gibson. They just knocked off the previously undefeated Steelers on the road. The Seahawks will get to see what Washington has to offer in two weeks and playing on that turf in late December is a potential nightmare scenario.
3. Los Angeles Rams
As already seen once this year, the Rams most certainly have the Seahawks number and their defense is legitimately scary. But getting to play in southern California in an indoor stadium and the wildly inconsistent play of Jared Goff make them a far more palatable opponent than Green Bay.
4. Green Bay Packers
You're obviously more afraid of Aaron Rodgers than Jared Goff and the prospects of going to Lambeau Field in the dead of winter is never a fun task. In addition, the Packers have been a thorn in the side of Russell Wilson and can get after the quarterback defensively, which would make this a scenario where the Seahawks could easily bow out of the playoffs in the first round.
If the Seahawks win the NFC West...
Now things get a bit stickier. If the Seahawks win the NFC West, they will either be the second or third seed in the NFC Playoffs (assuming the Saints earn the first-round bye). This means they'll either play the sixth or seventh seed, leaving open quite a few possibilities. So who would be the "best-case scenario?" Let's rank them.
1. San Francisco 49ers
That's right, the 49ers are still in the playoff hunt despite all their injuries, a testament to their Top 10 defense and solid coaching staff. They're also getting healthier at the right time and will be no easy out on anybody the rest of the season. Russell Wilson has handled the 49ers quite well but their great defense and tough run game will give anybody trouble. A seventh loss last weekend put a damper on their wild card chances, but a hot finish could get them in and they would be dangerous as a road playoff team.
2. Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals were flying high after their overtime victory against the Seahawks in Week 7 and appeared ready to stake their claim as the new sheriff in the NFC West. But since then, the Cardinals have gone 1-4 and were only got the one win on the miraculous Hail Mary completion against the Bills. Kyler Murray is struggling with a shoulder injury and teams are starting to adjust to his style of play.
3. Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings were the first team to really slow down the Seahawks this year and just completely out-physicaled the Seahawks on both sides of the ball. They're playing much better now and Kirk Cousins is back to his solid, albeit unspectacular, self under center. Minnesota can play keep away with Dalvin Cook starring in the backfield and force Wilson to be patient down the field defensively, a scary proposition for Seattle's suddenly struggling offense.
4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Tampa Bay is an enigma. One week they look like true Super Bowl contenders. The next week, they look as though they could be beaten by anybody. Oddly enough, it's not Tom Brady, Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, or Rob Gronkowski that should worry Seahawks fans. It is their top-notch defense and former Russell Wilson nemesis Todd Bowles that should keep you up at night. Tampa's stout front and a ball-control offense could carry the Bucs far so long as coach Bruce Arians allows it.
5. Los Angeles Rams
For all the reasons mentioned above, the Rams are an extremely difficult matchup for the Seahawks. However, if the Seahawks win the division, they likely would not face the Rams in the first round, making the most difficult path the least likely.
With four weeks left to go, anything can happen. In the NFC alone, as many as 10 teams are vying for one of the six remaining spots. And since the Seahawks could fall anywhere between the second and seventh seed, their list of potential Wild Card Round opponents is at least that long. But when all is said and done, here are the best matchups for the Seahawks in the opening round of the playoffs.
1. New York Giants
2. Washington Football Team
3. San Francisco 49ers
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Minnesota Vikings
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
7. Los Angeles Rams
8. Green Bay Packers
In order for these potential matchups to mean anything, the Seahawks will need to get Wilson back on track. If they can't, their opponent in the first round of the playoffs really won't matter. It'll be an early exit for a team that once dreamed of being Super Bowl contenders.