To many in the Pacific Northwest, the NFL has employed the Seahawks.
The league announced Monday Seattle will host the Los Angeles Rams at 1:25 pm Sunday in the final regular-season game — and the Detroit-Green Bay game at Lambeau Field will begin in prime time, at 5:20 pm Pacific.
The only way the Seahawks (8-8) can make the NFC playoffs is by beating the Rams (5-11) AND having the Lions (8-8) beat the Packers (8-8). Seattle owns a head-to-head tiebreaker advantage over Detroit, but loses a conference-record tiebreaker with Green Bay.
The NFL scheduling the Lions and the widely popular Packers with Aaron Rodgers for the showcase spot, the league’s final regular-season game to delight paying advertisers with huge television ratings, means if the Seahawks beat LA the Lions would know before they kickoff in Wisconsin they would be eliminated from the postseason.
The league a few years ago went to simultaneous start times for games on the final Sunday of the regular season that involved teams whose playoff chances hinged on each other’s results. That was to keep the remaining contending teams from knowing their postseason fate ahead of time and perhaps approaching their game differently.
Putting Lions-Packers after Seahawks-Rams creates what the simultaneous kickoff times on the final Sunday was supposed to avoid.
Pete Carroll has one reaction to all this: Whatever.
The Seahawks coach complimented — and perhaps simultaneously put out a veiled request to — Lions coach Dan Campbell Monday when asked about what the league did.
“I know that there has been, maybe, some question about the order of the games being played on Sunday, or whatever,” Carroll said soon after the NFL announced the Lions-Packers and Seahawks-Rams game times. “That doesn’t mean ANYTHING to me.
“I don’t care about that one bit. That’s not going to change anything that we’re doing. We are going for it. And then maybe there will be a pretty good party afterwards, you know, to watch the next game.
“But the last thing I would ever worry about is Coach Campbell’s team not getting ready to play, regardless of what’s at stake or what’s going on. He’s going to get them fired up and jacked. That’s all he’s ever done. And that will be a great match, too.
“We’ve got to take care of business and be focused on our stuff and have a great week, hopefully get a couple guys healthy again and go put a finishing touch on the regular season — with some excitement to come.”
Carroll was asked how it would change an NFL players’ and a team’s mindset to play a game they thought would be for a playoff berth but after finding out just before kickoff that they were eliminated from the postseason.
“It won’t be the first time they have that thought so it won’t be like it shocks them. They understand. They know what’s going on,” Carroll said.
“I know what I would think: If people think you are not going to go for it, that’s when I’m going even harder. I’m going to find every way I can.
“It’s kind of the syndrome like, oh, if you don’t have something to play for you aren’t going to play hard. Who do you think these guys are?”
Carroll’s voice rose incredulously.
“These guys are frickin’ warriors. They are going to go out and fight. They don’t care. Maybe they are some guys who don’t, but I don’t know that. I don’t understand that thinking. …
“You’d say a cuss word, and away you go and you’re off and playing. And that’s it.”
Geno Smith: We did this to ourselves
The Seahawks realize they’ve made this situation for themselves.
They could have avoided all this, could have been 9-7 or better right now and on the verge of clinching a playoff spot if not already clinched one, had they not lost five of six games before their win Sunday over the New York Jets.
They know they gave away games at home to Carolina and Las Vegas. They realize they didn’t show up for the first half of their loss they felt should have been a win over Tampa Bay in Munich.
The Seahawks could have avoided all this had they not lost to the entire NFC South, the division in which still no team has a winning record. Had they not turned 6-3 and first place in the NFC West into 7-8 until the win over the Jets Sunday.
“Yeah, it’s not what we want,” Pro Bowl quarterback Geno Smith said of having to rely on the Lions plus themselves. “Earlier in the season or midway through the season we were right in a position to really control our own destiny, and obviously we hit a rough patch.
“It’s not what we want, but we still got a shot,” Smith said. “So what we can control is winning next week, another tough opponent, but all we can do is control what we can control and look at the situation at hand.
“Right now we just got one game to see what we can do.”
This story was originally published January 2, 2023 5:40 PM.