A Seattle championship isn't just talk now

RENTON, Wash. -- All season long, the Seahawks players have said every game is a championship opportunity, so cornerback Richard Sherman was asked if Sunday’s game against the St. Louis Rams is any different.

“Not at all,” Sherman said. “It’s always championship week. You can’t use extra motivation one week and not another week. You don’t worry about the circumstances. You just go out and play.”

Nice try, Richard, but no one is buying that this week. Too much is at stake -- the NFC West title and home-field advantage -- to think this game is like all the others.

This isn’t a do-or-die game for the Seahawks, but it might as well be. A loss on Sunday to the St. Louis Rams probably means Seattle would start the playoffs on the road next weekend.

The Seahawks still could win the NFC West and earn home-field advantage in the playoffs if they lose Sunday, but only if the San Francisco 49ers lose on the road at Arizona.

It’s certainly possible considering how well the Cardinals are playing, having won seven of their past eight games. But the 49ers, who have a five-game winning streak, have won the past three matchups against Arizona and eight of the past nine meetings.

The Seahawks would be the fifth seed in the NFC is they lose Sunday and the 49ers win. Seattle would play the fourth seed, which could be one of three teams -- Green Bay, Chicago or Dallas. It’s complicated, but the fourth seed likely will be the winner of the Packers-Bears game Sunday in Chicago.

The best-case scenario for the Seahawks is home-field advantage and a first-round bye with a win Sunday. The worst-case scenario is a loss Sunday, then a road loss next weekend and the season ends.

The Seahawks aren’t even considering the latter option. Take care of business at CenturyLink Field against the Rams and the rest doesn’t matter.

“It’s going to be a battle,” Sherman said. “It’s a game within a game. We know each other’s schemes very well. It’s just going to come down to executing, who makes the big plays when they need them.”

A victory or the Seahawks would tie the franchise record for the best regular-season record at 13-3. That happened in 2005, the only time Seattle reached the Super Bowl

The Rams (7-8) haven’t won in Seattle since 2004, a 33-27 victory in overtime. It’s the only St. Louis victory in Seattle since the Seahawks moved to the NFC in 2002.

Officially, this one is just Game 16 of 16 championship opportunities, but even Seattle coach Pete Carroll admits it’s a little more than that.

“It comes up to championship weekend,” Carroll said. “So many things are on the line for the playoff. This has been a season of challenges and this is another one. It’s the last week and it couldn’t get more exciting. We’re revved up for it. These guys are really tuned in.”