Seattle focused on winning, not worrying over playoffs

RENTON — Sunday’s season finale is one of the most important games of the year for the playoff-bound Seahawks.

Well, that is unless it is completely meaningless.

If the Seahawks can finish the regular season with a victory over the St. Louis Rams, it would not just clinch Seattle’s best regular season record since 2005, it could, with some help, land the Seahawks an NFC West title, or perhaps even leap them into the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.

That help, however, may be hard to come by.

Seattle can do no worse than the NFC’s fifth seed, which would mean a trip to play at Dallas or Washington in the first round. To improve their seeding, the Seahawks would need the Arizona Cardinals, losers of 10 of their past 11 games, to win at San Francisco. Now, nothing is impossible in the NFL, but the Cardinals beating the 49ers is pretty darn close. Arizona will be led by its fourth starting quarterback this season and is going against a San Francisco team that tends to annihilate opponents coming off of a loss.

To get to the No. 2 seed, Seattle also would need Green Bay to lose at Minnesota, which is less far-fetched seeing as the Vikings are playing for a playoff berth. However, getting the result they need in San Francisco seems highly unlikely for the Seahawks.

Just because the Seahawks are likely to end up the No. 5 seed regardless of what they do Sunday, that doesn’t mean they’re taking this game any less seriously than any others. The mantra from players and coaches this week, like every week, is that they are treating this as a championship opportunity. No, they’re not likely to take home the NFC West title with a win, but the Seahawks know for sure that they can’t win their division if they don’t beat St. Louis, and that’s motivation enough.

“We’re going to go play the game; we have to take care of business,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said. “It doesn’t matter what happens if we don’t take care of our business.”

As good as the Seahawks have been of late, winning four in a row and six of their past seven, this potentially could set up as a letdown game. After all, the Seahawks are coming off of a huge, emotional win over the 49ers, they’ve already clinched a playoff spot and deep down, players have to know that their hopes of getting help from Arizona are slim. But even if this looks on the outside like a potential trap game, players insist they are no more and no less motivated this week than any other.

“The worry is out there for guys outside of the locker room, but our locker room, we’re dedicated to the task at hand,” receiver Doug Baldwin said. “We know what’s at stake, but we also know the only thing we can control is us. So, we need to go out there against the Rams and do our jobs.”

Besides, even if a division title or a bye is out of Seattle’s control, staying on a roll is not. There are plenty of examples in recent postseason history that show that momentum is a lot more important than seeding, so heading into the playoffs on a hot streak is important regardless of what happens in other games Sunday.

“(We’re treating this) as a must win,” cornerback Richard Sherman said. “It’s playoff atmosphere every game. It’s all about the finish, that’s what Pete Carroll finishes. We’re trying finish off the fourth quarter (of the season) with another win and have some momentum going into the playoffs. So it is a must-win for our team and we’re treating it as such. Everybody is locked in and focused and excited to play this ballgame.”

Injury update

Walter Thurmond has been ruled out of Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury, and Carroll said it wasn’t looking good for Thurmond to get back the following week either. Later Friday evening, Thurmond indicated on Twitter that his season is over, writing, “Seems my journey has come 2 an end this yr.Until nxt yr.” Nothing was announced by the team.

The news is better on cornerback Marcus Trufant, who has missed four games with a hamstring injury. Trufant practiced all week and will play against St. Louis, Carroll said, although he did not specify what Trufant’s role will be. Linebacker Leroy Hill is questionable with a hamstring injury. If he doesn’t play, he will replaced by Malcolm Smith. Tackle Breno Giacomini is also listed as questionable with an elbow injury, but he was able to practice fully on Friday.

Seahawks make roster moves

With Trufant back and Richard Sherman no longer facing a suspension, the Seahawks released cornerback Ron Parker and re-signed receiver Deon Butler, who they released earlier in the week less than two weeks after signing him.

With Hill’s status up in the air, Seattle also addressed its potential need for depth at linebacker, signing linebacker Allen Bradford off of their practice squad. Defensive tackle Hebron Fangupo was released to make room on the roster.

Herald Writer John Boyle: jboyle@heraldnet.com.

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