Don't expect Pete Carroll to relax his approach to the Seahawks' final two regular season games now that the team has secured one of the NFC's two wild-card spots and the Arizona Cardinals have clinched the NFC West.
"We try to get the best position we can in the playoffs, whatever it is," Carroll said Monday at Renton's Virginia Mason Athletic Center, one day after his team's 30-13 playoff-clinching win over the Cleveland Browns. "Winning games will help us get that. We're going to try to win games."
Locked in as a wild-card team, the Seahawks are assured of either the No. 5 or No. 6 seed regardless of whether the team wins or loses its final two games. But the Seahawks, who have won five games in a row and seven of their last eight, will continue to conduct business as usual down the stretch, Carroll said.
"I really don't believe that you should ask players to take a break," Carroll said. "I think they've got to go. If we decide not to play guys for a different reason, that could happen. That's not going to be because we're going to take a step off of the gas pedal right now."
The Seahawks (9-5) are currently slotted as the No. 5 seed in the conference thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker over the No. 6-seeded Vikings (9-5), who Seattle defeated 38-7 in Week 13 at Minnesota.
To open the playoffs, the No. 5 seed will play on the road against the No. 4 seed, which is guaranteed to be the winner of the NFC East. As it stands right now, the No. 5-seeded Seahawks would travel to Washington, D.C. for a wild-card matchup with the No. 4-seeded and NFC East-leading Redskins (7-7), who are battling the Philadelphia Eagles (6-8) and New York Giants (6-8) for the division.
The No. 6 seed, meanwhile, would play a road game against the No. 3 seed, which right now would be the NFC North-leading Green Bay Packers (10-4), who the Seahawks lost to in Week 2 at Lambeau Field.
Seattle can clinch the No. 5 seed this week with a win over the Rams plus a Vikings loss to the Giants. If those results fall into place and Washington wins to clinch the NFC East title, a wild-card matchup between the No. 5-seeded Seahawks and No.4-seeded Redskins will be set. But no matter what scenarios unfold, know that Carroll's team is always playing to win.
"We want to keep driving it and try to play the best we can this week and have a successful week," Carroll said. "We'll see what that leaves us next week. There will be no reason not to go for it again. It's like letting someone not try their hardest. I don't find any place for that in our game."
Click here for a look at the current playoff picture and click here for a look at clinching scenarios for Week 16, courtesy of NFL.com.
The Seahawks returned to CenturyLink Field for their Week 15 matchup against the Cleveland Browns, with all the holiday excitement from the 12s to locker room captured by team photographer Rod Mar.