For the first time this season, the Seahawks will head into a week of action in playoff position, the product of a win over the Steelers coupled with the latest loss by the fast-fading Falcons. Seattle will have a challenge in holding onto that spot in Week 13. They hit the road to face the 8-3 Vikings in a game that could tell us if the Seahawks can still hit the accelerator when the stakes get higher.
The Seahawks aren't the same team this year. Their defense -- especially their vaunted secondary -- hasn't been as strong and the absence of Marshawn Lynch will be felt, regardless of early positive returns on Thomas Rawls. But will you really be stunned if Seattle was 11-5 when the dust clears on Jan. 3?
Didn't think so.
Don't stop believin'
Hope doesn't waft into Ford Field too often, so when it does we take notice. Thanksgiving's pasting of the Eagles was the best version of the Lions team many expected to see back in August. The defense was sturdy, Matthew Stafford was slinging it around like it was his 5,000-yard season, and Calvin Johnson dominated like the Megatron we remember.
Still, when you start 1-7 you leave yourself very little margin for error for a Cinderella run. We'll just say the schedule ahead is manageable for Detroit if they find a way to get past the stumbling Packers on Thursday. After Green Bay, Detroit visits St. Louis and New Orleans, hosts the 49ers, then travel to Soldier Field to get the Bears again. After the Packers, the Lions don't play another winning team. Dream, Motor City, dream!
Speaking of the Packers ...
Don't look now, but the Packers are in real danger if they can't find a way to get past the Lions. Green Bay is fortunate to face a Matt Cassel-led Cowboys team in Week 14, but they end the season at Raiders (5-6), at Cardinals (9-2) and home to Vikings (8-3). There isn't a gimme to be had there, especially with the way this team has played for more than a month.
Falcons free fall
Huge matchup ahead alert ...
We didn't forget about you. You're 11-0. With a favorable schedule ahead, you remain the heavy favorite to claim the NFC's top seed. Congratulations on your envious position in life.