It's true. I calculated it out. Let me preface this by saying that this is not a downer post and that I am not being pessimistic, or anything like that. This could be an amazing divisional race to watch for NFL fans in general, not just those that reside in the NFC West.
If the 49ers win out, they finish 14-2. If the Seahawks win out except for dropping the @ 49ers game, we finish 14-2 as well. Both teams in this scenario will have lost to the Colts, and to each other. NFL tie-breaking procedures to determine division winner go by the following:
1) Head-to-head (best won-lost-tied percentage in games between the clubs).
2) Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the division.
3) Best won-lost-tied percentage in common games.
4) Best won-lost-tied percentage in games played within the conference.
5) Strength of victory.
Let's break it down. The first criteria would obviously be the same; both teams 14-2. The second piece of criteria would also be the same, we'd both be 5-1 in the division with each losing to each other once, so that's a wash. The third piece of criteria would also be a wash. Every team plays 16 games, and this year, the Seahawks and 49ers share 11 common opponents. (Covering 14 games because 3 are division foe duplicates.)
Seahawks 2013 Schedule:
49ers 2013 Schedule:
We play all the same opponents except for two, the Seahawks play the Vikings and Giants, and the 49ers play the Packers and Redskins. So, since in this scenario both teams would beat the two different opponents, we would be left with identical numbers of wins against common opponents. Another wash.
On to the 4th tie-breaking criteria. Best record against teams in the conference; the NFC in our case. Since each team would have one AFC loss (to the same team, no less; the Colts) and one NFC loss, (to each other) then this is also a wash, because both teams would have 11 wins, 1 loss in the NFC, and 3 wins, 1 loss in the AFC. Both teams would finish with 11 NFC wins.
The 5th piece of criteria is what would determine the tie-breaker if the 49ers won out the rest of the year. Right now per ESPN, the Seahawks have a strength of victory of 0.390, and the 49ers have a strength of victory of 0.441. They beat us in this category; that is, the opponents they've beaten have more wins than the opponents we have beaten, which is how strength of victory is decided. If we look at the remaining opponents of both the Seahawks and the 49ers, the 49ers face fewer losing teams if current trends continue than the Seahawks do, which means they would almost certainly finish the year with a better strength of victory number.
That would make them the NFC West winners, and the Seahawks would be a 14-2 wild card.
Even though the 49ers are a game behind us, if they win out, they win the NFC West. Incredible. Now, this is not likely to happen, but the 49ers are on a streak and it's definitely possible that we may lose to them when we go there. If the Seahawks win out, we're guaranteed to win the division at 15-1; but if we win all of the rest of our games except @ San Francisco, and the 49ers win out, period...We lose the division unless there are drastic changes in the right way for us with some of our future opponents.
I didn't create this thread to start a panic, and I'm certainly not panicking myself, or whining; but if anyone was under the impression that we "should still be alright" if we drop another game somewhere, it's time to think again. The best wild card the NFL has ever seen was when the 1999 Titans finished 2nd place in what was then the AFC Central division with a 13-3 record. There has never been a 14-2 wild card team. It's possible that the NFC West may produce a 14-2 wild card this year. That would be absolutely crazy.
If the 49ers and Seahawks both keep winning until we face each other in San Francisco in week 14, that game will have huge divisional implications of historic proportions. The NFC West may have been won by a team with 11 wins last year, but at this point, it's hard to see the winner of it this year not having 14 wins, possibly more.