We've reached the home stretch of the 2019 regular season. The Seattle Seahawks (8-2) are destined for the postseason once again, but there are still a wide variety of potential outcomes for how this thing could play out.
Seattle very well might be a wildcard team, playing on the road throughout the playoffs. The Seahawks also have a prime opportunity to claim the top seed in the NFC, a first-round bye and homefield advantage.
The likelihood of those outcomes is the focal point of this week's mailbag. Thanks, as always, to those who asked questions.
Here are Seattle's final six opponents: Eagles, Vikings, Rams, Panthers, Cardinals and 49ers.
And here's how I'd divide those games.
Should-be wins: Panthers and Cardinals. (You simply cannot drop a game to the Kyle Allen-led Panthers or to the Cardinals at home.)
Potential losses: Eagles and Rams. (Both on the road against teams that are better than their record indicates.)
50/50: Vikings and 49ers. (Both at home, but CenturyLink Field isn't the impenetrable fortress that it used to be.)
I predict a 4-2 stretch over the next six games. There's no reason why the Seahawks can't run the table, but it also wouldn't surprise me if they went 3-3. Either outcome would be good enough for a postseason birth. It would take 4-2 or better if Seattle hopes to win the division. The 49ers have a brutal three-game gauntlet upcoming against the Packers, Ravens and Saints. Seahawks fans will have to hope San Francisco drops at least one of those three.
I believe Baltimore would still have a winning record without Jackson. That's not to minimize what's been an incredible season for the second-year
running back quarterback, it's just to say that he's had more help.
In my definition of "most valuable," I'm looking at the potential drop-off should a given player leave the lineup. Baltimore would be able to weather the storm without Jackson. By those standards, that's why Drew Brees wouldn't be in the conversation this year - because the Saints were unbeaten without him.
The same can't be said, in my opinion, for Dallas and Seattle. Both teams would fall apart without Prescott and Wilson, respectively. Prescott leads the league in passing yards while Wilson leads the NFL in passing touchdowns and passer rating. I'm giving Wilson the edge given Seattle's 8-2 record to Dallas' 6-4 record.
It's very safe to say that Marquise Blair has lost his starting spot. Quandre Diggs isn't going anywhere, especially after Pete Carroll called him a "settling presence" at free safety. Blair will now only see the field in dime situations (or if Diggs suffers an injury, of course), but that will depend on the game plan week-to-week. Seattle simply hasn't used its dime packages very often this season.
I actually don't think the game plan changes much with either. Gordon, to me, is an upgrade over Jaron Brown and David Moore, but I don't think the Seahawks are going to drastically alter their game plan a la San Francisco following the trade for Emmanuel Sanders. Gordon is a complimentary piece to Tyler Lockett and DK Metcalf.
I don't have a ton of expectations for Ed Dickson given the emergence of Jacob Hollister. Seattle would be foolish to diminish Hollister's role in favor of Dickson given his recent hot streak with three touchdowns over the last two games.
Let's start with Jarran Reed, who can still earn himself some money this season and in the playoffs. He played a gigantic role in Seattle's win over San Francisco and looked like the player who accumulated 10.5 sacks in 2018. He could end up commanding top-tier money among 4-3 defensive tackles if he continues that level of play over Seattle's final six games.
Fletcher Cox is the highest paid player at $17.1 million per year. Reed isn't likely to surpass that, but he could end up in the $14-$16 million range. That would put him in the conversation with Geno Atkins, Kawann Short and Linval Joseph.
Ifedi has shown he's a capable starter without any traits that stand out as exceptional. I could see him being in the $5 million range depending on who else is on the right tackle market. That's what the Bills gave Ty Nsekhe this past offseason.
Taking a wide receiver in the first three rounds of the 2020 NFL Draft would certainly be a luxury pick, but solidifying a talented receiver trio with Lockett and Metcalf would be tantalizing. Seattle wouldn't have to worry about wide receiver, theoretically, for three to five years if they made such a move.
I think the Seahawks would have to absolutely fall in love with a player in order for this to happen. If other players grade out similarly, Seattle would be wise to focus on positions of greater need: offensive line and pass rush to name a few.
Matt Hasselbeck, no question. He's the franchise leader in passing yards (29,434) and ranks third in touchdowns (174). Hasselbeck made three Pro Bowls and led Seattle to its first ever Super Bowl appearance. He's more than deserving of a spot in the Seahawks Ring of Honor. Shaun Alexander, Steve Hutchinson and Marshawn Lynch also have strong cases. As for active NFL players, well, Seattle is going to have some tough decisions to make down the road.
Don't plan on seeing John Ursua unless Seattle suffers more than one injury at receiver.
I don't know, do you really want to give up a week of late-January, early-February weather in Seattle for a week in Miami? Makes you think…
Give me "Elf" and all of the baked goods. ALL OF THEM.
I'm a lost cause. I wish I had a better answer for you. :(
Fann Mail: Predicting the Seahawks record over the final six games of 2019 originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest