Week 15 Expanded NFC West Preview – With Bonus Playoff Action

As the playoff race hits a dead spring we’ll look beyond the division to include other matchups that effect the Seahawks’ playoff picture:


Arizona Cardinals @ St. Louis Rams
NFL Network

Mississippi Auburn football


Three weeks ago this was somewhat of a nothing match up, but a lot has changed. Arizona has dropped two of their last three games to fall back to 10-3 with a one game lead in the division. The Rams have won two of their last three to elevate their season to 6-7 and within striking distance of the 49ers to pull themselves out of the division basement.




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It is not entirely a coincidence that the Rams becoming a respectable team coincided with Tre Mason showing up as a threat when rushing the ball. He is basically a two down back, but he demands attention as a rusher with 4.5 yards per carry, which with a poor to middling passing attack they require that threat in order to have a functioning offense.

The Cardinals counter with a high ranked and talented defense that rushes the passer with solid ability and stops the run to the tune of 92.1 yards per game. This is not the type of defense that the Rams want to face, but the literal metric ton of injuries their defense and now especially their secondary has absorbed may be enough to let the Rams have an offense.


Green Bay Packers @ Buffalo Bills
10:00 PST



The Packers Angle:
The Packers really want a win here. In a perfect world in cheeseland that Week 17 game against Detroit will not matter for the division title, but to be sure that means picking up a two game lead. One game up with two to play between now and that Week 17 showdown means they will want to pick up a W in both games to feel good about things.


The Seattle Angle:
That Week 1 win over Green Bay is looking sweeter by the day. Not only does it give Seattle a big ticket W and a game in the conference win column, it gives a tiebreaker to a team that could still land in the wild card. Seeing as Seattle holds that tiebreaker over Green Bay and not Detroit, a loss by the Packers would strengthen Seattle’s wild card position.


Minnesota Vikings @ Detroit Lions
1:25 PST



The Lions Angle:
Detriot needs this win to keep in striking distance of Green Bay in the NFC North division, as right now they are back one game in the win/loss department but hold the tiebreaker and a Week 17 match up that would allow them to clinch the tiebreaker and close the gap if they can keep pace for the next two weeks.


The Seattle Angle:
Seattle holds an identical conference record to the Lions, with no head to head match up this season. The Seahawks hold the advantage based on win percentage against common opponents, but that is also close. On the other hand, Seattle has the head to head win over Green Bay and a one game advantage in the loss column for conference record. So, Seattle should prefer the Lions to win as it keeps them in distance to knock down the Packers and boost Seattle’s playoff seed in case of a division title or boost their position in the wild card.


San Francisco 49ers @ Seattle Seahawks
1:25 PST

Richard Sherman, Michael Crabtree


Yes, that picture again. Why? Because, as a Seattle Seahawks fan I can never use or see that picture too many times in my life. The 49ers are fast falling apart, as dropping two in a row in ugly fashion, including the bay area “rivalry” to Oakland last week. The 49ers at 7-6 feel fully out of the post season picture even if statistically they have a chance, and they are in danger of finishing in the bottom of a stacked NFC West. Seattle feels like they have rounded into peak form at the right time to make a push for the division and a home playoff game or two after winning three in a row in convincing fashion to climb to 9-4.



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So those two stat lines, the one of a really talented quarterback and a really talented runningback both belong to our beloved Russell Wilson. Wilson alone is an embarrassment of riches in some ways, posting rushing yardage that would rank 16th in the league…among runningbacks. The offensive line has been up and down, looking like two different units with and without Max Unger and with Justin Britt looking over-matched by just about anyone with a good speed rush. Marshawn Lynch has been being saved, or Turbin has been getting more reps, or however you want to say that our other great offensive weapon has been on the field less this year. Oh yes, and until this week when Paul Richardson showed up to play like a veteran Russ has not had that big play WR threat since Golden Tate walked and Percy Harvin decided trolling teammates was better than playing football well.

So how do the 49ers stop Wilson? Quite simply, they’ve shown they can’t. His last two games against them he’s posted QB Ratings of 118.7 and 104.6. Against a tough defense he has been a difference maker. However, if San Francisco can slow the running game down a lot and their quality defensive backs can control Seattle’s young receivers they do have a shot of neutralizing some of Seattle’s offensive firepower. Enough to win? Hard to say with the way the defense is playing, not to mention the holes in the 49ers offense.


Dallas Cowboys @ Philadelphia Eagles
5:30 PST



The Eagles/Cowboys Angle:
After the Cowboys thumped the Bears and the Eagles were thumped by the Seahawks, records wise it is a tie in the NFC East. Right now the Eagles hold the tiebreaker with a Week 13 win over Dallas, and a second win would put them a game up plus the tiebreaker, effectively making it a two game lead with two games left. That scenario makes this a must win for Dallas to keep division hopes alive, and really a loss would hurt their chances in the wild card greatly as well.


The Seattle Angle:
From the Seahawks’ point of view this is a bit of a wash. Despite beating Seattle earlier in the year the Cowboys own a worse conference record, which gives the wild card tiebreaker to Seattle. Seattle owns a win over the Eagles and a better conference record, so either way the tiebreakers look good for Seattle. Give the slight edge to Dallas winning being better for the Seahawks because they are a lock over the Eagles if it comes down to a wild card birth.

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