RENTON, Wash. — As much as Pete Carroll preaches to his team that no one game is any more important than another, Doug Baldwin couldn’t ignore the math.
“Regardless of what anybody says, this was an important game for us,” he said inside a victorious Seattle Seahawks locker room Sunday at Bank of America Stadium. “We needed to win this game to keep our playoff hopes alive.”
The first part was indisputably true. The second part, pretty much true.
But their 30-27 win put that number at a very healthy 78.1 percent by the time the rest of Sunday’s games finished. That’s fourth-best among NFC teams, ahead of the 6-4-1 Minnesota Vikings (71 percent) and the 6-5 Dallas Cowboys (66.9 percent) even though they’re both (barely) ahead of the 6-5 Seahawks in the wild-card standings. A wild-card berth is Seattle’s only hope with the 10-1 Los Angeles Rams in control of the NFC West.
That FPI projection takes into account a favorable remaining schedule for Seattle that includes four of the final five games at home and only two against teams with a winning record.
And there’s this: The Seahawks have been at their best down the stretch under Pete Carroll, last season notwithstanding.
Since 2012, Carroll’s third season in Seattle and Russell Wilson
It’s why general manager John Schneider called it “our time of the year” right before the Seahawks kicked off last December with a 24-10 win over the Philadelphia Eagles, one of only three losses for the eventual Super Bowl champs.
Seattle then lost three of its final four to finish 9-7 and out of the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Two of those losses were to playoff teams, the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Rams, who handed the Seahawks their most lopsided defeat of the Carroll era.
Seattle’s remaining schedule this year doesn’t look as difficult, even with a matchup against the 10-1 Kansas City Chiefs at CenturyLink Field. That’s the only one of the Seahawks’ final five games that FPI does not project them to win. They’re heavy favorites against a pair of 2-9 teams, the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday and the Arizona Cardinals in the season finale.
As long as the Chiefs are still playing for playoff seeding, the Seahawks’ defense — which got carved up in Carolina — will have its hands more than full against MVP candidate Patrick Mahomes. But keep this in mind: The game with the Chiefs and the one against Minnesota will be in prime time, and under Carroll, the Seahawks are 15-2 in prime-time home games.
Plus, it’ll be December.
The Seahawks need that to again be their time of the year.