The Seahawks host the Rams Sunday in their regular season finale, a game they need to win to keep their playoff hopes alive.
"It's a championship opportunity if there ever was one, so we're going for it again," Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
But while a win keeps the Seahawks alive for a playoff berth, they also need the Lions to beat or tie the Packers in order to make the postseason, because if Seattle and Green Bay both win and finish 9-8, the Packers would advance due to the better conference record. Seattle, meanwhile, holds the tiebreaker over the Lions due to a head-to-head victory in Week 8.
And while in past years the NFL has tried to avoid playing a Sunday Night Game that can be affected, playoff seeding or qualification-wise, by games earlier in the day, that will not be the case this year, with Green Bay hosting the Lions at 5:20 p.m. PT. That means that if the Seahawks do beat the Rams Sunday afternoon, the Lions would be eliminated from the postseason an hour or so before playing a game the Seahawks need them to win.
But even if that might seem unfair to a lot of Seahawks fans, Carroll said he has zero concerns that Dan Campbell's Lions will be anything but fully motivated, regardless of what's at stake.
"I know that there's been maybe some question about the order of the games being played on Sunday or whatever," Carroll said Monday after the NFL announced its Week 18 scheduling. "That doesn't mean anything to me. We don't care about that one bit. It's not going to change anything that we're doing. We're going for it. And then maybe there'd be pretty good party afterwards to watch the next game. But the last thing I would ever worry about is coach Campbell's team not getting ready to play, regardless of what's at stake and what's going on. He's going to get them fired up and jacked, that's all he's ever done. And that'll be a great match too. So we've got to take care of business and be focused on our stuff and have a great week, hopefully get a couple guys healthy again, and go put a finishing touch on this regular season with some excitement to come."
Five years ago, the NFL didn’t play a Sunday night game in order to avoid this kind of scenario, with NFL senior vice president of broadcasting Howard Katz saying the league wanted to ensure they did not have a Sunday night matchup "that because of earlier results has no playoff implications for one or both of the competing teams." This year, the league will play on Sunday night even with that scenario in play, but Carroll doesn't think it will be a factor if the Seahawks do take care of business, noting that the Lions will know all week what the possibilities are, and that they'll be motivated as competitors regardless.
"They know what's going on," Carroll said. "In some respects—I know what I would think, if people think you're not going to go for it, that's when I'm going even harder. I'm going to find every way I can. To think you're going to hold back? There's so much conversation about that, it's the syndrome like, 'Oh if you have something to play for, you're not going to play hard.' Who do you think these guys are? These guys are freakin' warriors. They're going to go out and battle, they don't care. Maybe there's some guys that don't, but I don't know, I don't understand that thinking. You'd say a cuss word and away you go, you're off and playing, and that's it."
After announcing on his morning radio show on Seattle Sports 710 AM that linebacker Jordyn Brooks suffered a “legit” ACL injury, Carroll confirmed that the team's leading tackler is headed for surgery on the knee. A timeline on his recovery is not yet known, as the surgery won't take place until swelling goes down, Carroll said.
The news sounded positive on receiver Tyler Lockett, who left Sunday's game with a leg contusion, then later returned before being taken out of the game with the Seahawks leading by 17 points in the fourth quarter.
"He's better today," Carroll said. "The report is his leg feels a little better today. He got banged; it's not a serious injury, but it bothered him immediately afterwards. He recovered enough to get back in, then I went up to him and said, 'We're going to win this game, we've got a big game coming up, you're out for now.' But he was chomping to get back in."
Carroll said that Phil Haynes, who has split time at right guard with Gabe Jackson this season, left Sunday's game with a high ankle sprain.
As for players who missed Sunday's game due to injury, Carroll said that safety Ryan Neal, right tackle Abraham Lucas and running back Travis Homer all have a shot to get back this week.
Carroll said receiver Dee Eskridge, who has been on injured reserve since injuring his hand in Seattle's Week 10 game in Munich, could return to practice soon.
"There's a chance that he could come back and get back to practice with us," Carroll said. "We've got to get him out there. As of last week, he was pretty much cleared."
Check out the best sights from the sidelines and locker room following a big 23-6 win over the New York Jets at Lumen Field on January 1, 2023.