SEATTLE — The NFL's lengthy season is nearing its conclusion this weekend.
Whether the Seattle Seahawks, one of the surprises of the season, qualify for the postseason is dependent on two things happening in the final week.
For one, the Seahawks have to win. This isn't just an empty "must-win" platitude for a game that isn't actually a must-win. No, this is an actual must-win game.
Then the Seahawks need a little help from their friends in Detroit on Sunday night.
If the Lions beat the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field, the Seahawks would be in the playoffs in its first season without Russell Wilson.
Which would be quite a feat. Even if Seattle just misses the playoffs, the 2022 season would already be a big success considering the modest expectations in the preseason.
The playoffs would just be the nice cherry on top.
- Matchup: Seahawks (8-8) vs. Rams (5-11)
- Time: Sunday, 1:25 p.m.
- Location: Lumen Field, Seattle
- Key Seahawks: Geno Smith (QB), DK Metcalf (WR), Tariq Woolen (CB)
- Key Rams: Baker Mayfield (QB), Cam Akers (RB), Bobby Wagner (LB)
Plans for QB
This could be Geno Smith's last game as a starting quarterback for the Seahawks. The 32-year-old quarterback signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Seahawks last offseason, but he's played himself to a nice pay raise on the open market once the season ends.
Can the Seahawks afford to retain Smith? Maybe. Seattle currently has the second-most cap space ($10.5 million) in the league, according to Spotrac. With the NFL's lenient financial system, there are always pathways to build more cap space too.
But do the Seahawks want to keep Smith is the more fascinating question to ask. On the surface, it wouldn't make sense to let Smith go based on his production in 2022. There is a unique set of circumstances to consider here though. One, the Seahawks will have at least a top-six selection in the 2023 NFL Draft. Two, Smith has only proven to be a good quarterback in one NFL season.
Just like last season, the upcoming offseason will center around the Seahawks' plans for the quarterback position.
Taking a top quarterback prospect with its earlier first-round selection and keeping Smith to either mentor or back up the rookie is another option too.
Misery loves company
You could not have scripted a worse season for the defending champion Los Angeles Rams, who were projected by Vegas oddsmakers to win the NFC West division.
Instead of defending its crown, the Rams' best players (Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, Matthew Stafford) were injured for most of the season. Los Angeles cycled through four different starting quarterbacks. There was a six-game losing streak that spanned from October to December.
What was a top-10 offense last season is one of the worst units in 2022.
Now the Rams will need to rebuild without its first-round pick (which will defer to Detroit) and aging veterans with large contracts blotting the team's payroll.
The Rams could not be farther from being a Super Bowl contender.
Seahawks 24, Rams 13.
Can the Lions save the Seahawks?