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Danny O'Neil covers the Seahawks for The Seattle Times.

November 12, 2012 at 6:00 AM

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NFC West Watch: Seahawks' chances get a boost

The 49ers didn't lose Sunday.

But their 24-24 tie against St. Louis was almost as good from Seattle's perspective in how it affected the Seahawks' chances at winning the NFC West, though.

W | L | T
W | L | T
San Francisco6-2-12-0-1
St. Louis3-5-12-0-1

The Seahawks are a game behind the 49ers according to the standings, but that doesn't really explain Seattle's situation. Not only have the Seahawks played one more game than the 49ers, but Seattle has a head-to-head loss to the 49ers in addition to a markedly inferior division record.

Seattle does not control its own destiny in the division. Even if the Seahawks were to beat San Francisco in Week 16, Seattle would need the 49ers to lose at least one of their other six remaining games to have a chance at winning the NFC West.

Seattle is extremely unlikely to hold a tiebreaker advantage over San Francisco in determining a division championship. The reasons for that get into the finer points of the NFL's tie-breaking procedure, and are explained thoroughly at the bottom.

Put simply: Seattle almost certainly has to finish ahead of San Francisco outright, which is why the 49ers' tie was almost as good as a loss from Seattle's perspective.

Seattle went from needing to finish a whole game ahead of San Francisco in the standings, to having the possibility of finishing a half-game ahead of the 49ers.

There's still a long way to go in the season, and a lot can happen, but for every Seahawks fan who felt disappointed the 49ers came back to win, rest assured the tie was almost as good from Seattle's perspective.

Not to get ahead of everything, but here's how the final seven weeks look for the rest of the NFC West.

SEATTLE (6-4)Seahawks 49ERS (6-2-1)for-mark-1-cl.gif
Nov. 18BYE Nov. 19Chicago (7-2)
Nov. 25at Miami (4-5) Nov. 25at New Orleans (4-5)
Dec. 2at Chicago (7-2) Dec. 2at St. Louis (3-5-1)
Dec. 9vs. Arizona (4-5) Dec. 9vs. Miami (4-5)
Dec. 16at Buffalo (3-6) Dec. 16at New England (6-3)
Dec. 23vs. San Francisco (6-2-1) Dec. 23at Seattle (6-4)
Dec. 30vs. St. Louis (3-5-1) Dec. 30vs. Arizona (4-5)
ARIZONA (4-5)car-mark-1-cl.gif ST. LOUIS (3-5-1)ram-mark-1-cl.gif
Nov. 18at Atlanta (8-1) Nov. 18vs. New York Jets (3-6)
Nov. 25St. Louis (3-5) Nov. 25at Arizona (4-5)
Dec. 2at New York Jets (3-6) Dec. 2vs. San Francisco (6-2-1)
Dec. 9at Seattle (6-4) Dec. 9at Buffalo (3-6)
Dec. 16vs. Detroit (4-5) Dec. 16Minnesota (6-4)
Dec. 23vs. Chicago (7-2) Dec. 23at Tampa Bay (5-4)
Dec. 30at San Francisco (6-2-1) Dec. 30at Seattle (6-4)

TIEBREAKER FUNDAMENTALS: Here's why it is so unlikely that Seattle would be able to win a tiebreaker with San Francisco for the division title:
• The first tiebreaker in determining the division champion is head-to-head record. San Francisco already won the first meeting against Seattle, which means the best the Seahawks can do is split the head-to-head meetings.
• The second tiebreaking criteria for the division championship is division record. Seattle is 0-3 in the NFC West, San Francisco 2-0-1. The 49ers would have to lose all three of its remaining NFC West games and Seattle would have to win its final three division games to win this tiebreaker.

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