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Updated Thursday, December 27, 2012 at 09:26 AM

Seahawks not giving up on chance for an NFC West title

By Danny O'Neil
Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — The only way for Seattle's playoff seeding to change at this point requires the San Francisco 49ers to lose Sunday at home to an Arizona team that has lost 10 of its past 11 games and will be using its fourth different starting quarterback of the season.

So, you're saying there's a chance?

Technically, yes. If Seattle beats St. Louis on Sunday and San Francisco loses a second consecutive game for the first time under coach Jim Harbaugh, the Seahawks would be the NFC West champions and play host to a playoff game.

Barring that, Seattle will be the No. 5 seed in the NFC, playing on the road against the winner of the regular-season finale Sunday between Washington and Dallas.

So now that Seattle has the first goal of a postseason berth met, how does coach Pete Carroll approach the finale Sunday?

"You want to position yourself the best spot that you can get in," Carroll said. "We never say, 'Oh, hey, we've got to get to the playoffs.' I never thought that. That isn't good enough. I think you've got to go further than that."

And while an NFC West title is not likely, Carroll and the Seahawks aren't conceding anything heading into the final weekend.

"We're going to fight for it," Carroll said. "It's a championship opportunity for us."

The Seahawks are in the midst of their longest winning streak (four) in five years and are guaranteed no worse than the fifth seed. The only way to improve on that position is for the Cardinals to win on the road behind quarterback Brian Hoyer, who will be starting the first regular-season game in his four-year NFL career that has included 62 regular-season pass attempts.

That means Seattle doesn't have all that much to lose when it concludes its regular season Sunday against the St. Louis Rams.

Worried the team might let down?

"There is always concern for that," Carroll said. "That's what my job is, to not let that happen. So I better be concerned about that. I'm very confident about what we're doing and how we're doing it."

The NFC West already is assured of having two teams finish the season with a winning record for the first time since 2003. That also happens to be the last time the Rams finished above .500, which they still have a chance to do.

"From our team standpoint and our season standpoint, I think we've done enough to be able to move into the offseason optimistically," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Seahawks, on the other hand, still have their eyes on more than just a playoff berth as evidence of their improvement this season.

"We understand we have a great, great home-field advantage here at Clink," fullback Michael Robinson said. "And the only way we even give ourselves the possibility of playing home games is if we win this game.

"So we can't control what happens in the other games, but we sure can control how we play against St. Louis, and we're going to attack it. We're going to go out there and play like everything is on the line."

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Hawks' playoff possibilities

NFC West champs: if Hawks win Sunday and 49ers lose. First playoff game: Jan. 5 or 6.

NFC West champs with first-round playoff bye: if Hawks win Sunday and 49ers, Packers lose. First playoff game: Jan. 12 or 13.

Wild-card team: if Hawks lose Sunday or 49ers win. First playoff game: Jan. 5 or 6


JOHN LOK / THE SEATTLE TIMES
Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, center, says it's his job to have his team prepared, regardless if they're playing for a division title, or basically for nothing at all.




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