Playoffs for the Seattle Seahawks? Three reasons why it's not completely absurd

Russell Wilson struggled in his return from a finger injury, but a return to his regular form could key a second-half run by the Seahawks. Aaron Gash/AP

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Seahawks' chances of making the playoffs for the ninth time in 10 seasons took another big hit with their 17-0 loss at the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

While the thought of a 3-6 team that was just shut out for the first time in a decade still having a shot at the postseason might call to mind that old Jim Mora clip -- "playoffs?!" -- it's a possibility. Even if not a very good one.

ESPN's Football Power Index gave the Seahawks a 23.1% chance after they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 8. That rose to 31.3% after a bunch of other NFC teams fell while Seattle was on its Week 9 bye. It's now down to 12.4%, lower than all but five teams in the conference.

FPI projected about a 44% chance with a win over Green Bay.

"It's a big opportunity that we missed out on," coach Pete Carroll said. "It's just disappointing. This was a real shot and we could feel it and we knew it. And unfortunately, we couldn't get the right plays made at the right time to get it done."

As dire as it looks for the Seahawks, here are three reasons to think they can at least make things interesting in December.

Their defense appears to be for real

Before Sunday, the legitimacy of the turnaround from its early-season struggles could have been questioned. Seattle allowed the fourth-fewest points per game (18.0) from Weeks 4 through 8, a stretch in which they faced one excellent quarterback in Matthew Stafford and several lesser ones in Jimmy Garoppolo/Trey Lance, Ben Roethlisberger, Jameis Winston and Trevor Lawrence.

That turnaround looks a lot more real after the Seahawks held reigning MVP Aaron Rodgers and a good Packers offense to only three points through three-plus quarters, even if Rodgers was impacted by his bout with COVID-19 and the resulting 10-day layoff.

"We're playing really good," Carroll said. "I made a statement to those guys [Saturday] about that I'm excited about all of the areas we've been so well in. It's just the truth. I'll tell the truth on Monday, and I told the truth on Saturday of this week. They went out there and played like crazy all night. And I'm really, really proud of the way they got after it."

The Seahawks still need more from their loaded pass rush and they need to force more turnovers. They had one Sunday when safety Jamal Adams picked off Rodgers for his first interception as a Seahawk. Adams has been playing better of late but hadn't made a big play until then.

Russell Wilson is back

Of course, it's fair to wonder how back he really is after his uncharacteristically bad showing in Green Bay. Wilson said his surgically-repaired finger felt fine and that it wasn't the reason he completed only 20 of 40 attempts with two interceptions and some errant throws.

If it was truly more the product of his month-long absence, a tough Packers defense and/or playing in the freezing cold, then none of those should be big issues going forward. Then again, Seattle faces another good Arizona defense this week (4:25 p.m. ET, Sunday, Fox).

But nine-plus years of Wilson leading the Seahawks to improbable comebacks makes it tough to completely write them off now that he's back.

"With my hand, I feel 100% confident where I'm at," he said. "I wouldn't be out here if I didn't. It's too important. And I feel great about where we can go still. It was challenging. This could have been a big, big step for us here to get this win on the road and everything else. But unfortunately, because of my mishaps here and there, it didn't happen."

The schedule and the standings

You can pretty much forget about the Seahawks catching either the Los Angeles Rams (7-3) or Arizona Cardinals (8-2) in the NFC West standings. But with an extra wild-card berth, they're still alive for the conference's seventh and final playoff seed. They're two wins behind the teams currently sitting in the sixth (the 5-4 New Orleans Saints) and seventh (the 5-5 Carolina Panthers) spots.

Nine wins could conceivably be enough in the NFC, and the Seahawks have a path to a 9-8 finish, albeit a hard one.

They either could or should be favored in five remaining games (versus the Washington Football Team, Houston Texans, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers). If they win all five -- that's obviously a big if for a 3-6 team, especially with the 49ers taking it to the Rams on Monday night -- they'd need to beat at least one favored opponent to get to nine wins. They play the Cardinals twice and the Rams one more time.

With Kyler Murray and backup Colt McCoy both hurting, Sunday's home game against Arizona might be the Seahawks' best shot at that upset win.