‘Strength of victory’ could affect Seahawks and 49ers

RENTON — Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll may bounce around touting his “Win Forever” mantra, but that doesn’t mean looking ahead to “forever” is all right.

In fact, it’s something Carroll consistently warns against. He’s the same each week, touting that seven days as another “championship week” and loathe to talk beyond that.

So, let’s do it for him.

The Seahawks are 6-1 and heading into the end of their most difficult road stretch of the season. When the clock runs out Monday night in St. Louis, the Seahawks will be done with four road games in five weeks.

Included was a Thursday night road game after a short week.

The Seahawks took four days off before returning to full practice Tuesday after that quick turnaround last week. Since their bye week doesn’t start until Nov. 18, the break was welcomed.

“I think a lot of guys were kind of down on ‘E’, as far as gas in the tank,” safety Earl Thomas said. “I feel very good right now. Very rejuvenated.”

Looking down the line, that refueled group will see just two opponents (New Orleans and San Francisco) who have winning records. The Seahawks have their bye the week before they host New Orleans, giving them two full weeks of preparation for the 5-1 Saints on a Monday night.

Seattle heads to San Francisco the next week.

But, starting this Sunday, the Seahawks’ remaining opponents outside of those two are 13-33. Two, the New York Giants and Minnesota Vikings, have just a win. The Giants picked up theirs against the Vikings on Monday night.

Tampa Bay is winless and visits CenturyLink Field on Nov. 3.

The Seahawks also close with four of six at home, where they have won 11 consecutive games, one short of tying the franchise record.

Which makes considerations of homefield advantage throughout the playoffs for the Seahawks a legit thought, even in Week 8.

San Francisco and New Orleans appear the two main competitors. The Saints have a more difficult schedule in front of them than the Seahawks or 49ers.

New Orleans has to play the Carolina Panthers, which have won consecutive games by a combined score of 65-25, twice. The Panthers are 3-3 and in second place, behind New Orleans, in the NFC South.

The Saints also play at Seattle and host San Francisco, and have a tricky road trip to play the New York Jets, who just knocked off the Patriots last week.

New Orleans will be doing all of this without the benefit of a break. It was on a bye last week and is looking at 10 consecutive games, including five on the road plus a Thursday night game, to close the season.

San Francisco has a schedule similar to Seattle. The 49ers have a bye week still to come, following a game in London this weekend against woeful Jacksonville (0-7).

Like the Seahawks, San Francisco has just two teams, Seattle and New Orleans, above .500 remaining on the schedule.

Which brings intrigue.

If the Seahawks and 49ers finish 14-2, a possible path if Seattle loses in San Francisco and each otherwise wins out, the 49ers would be the No. 1 seed in the playoffs.

Here’s why:

Seattle and San Francisco would be tied in overall record. They would be tied in head-to-head record, the next tie-breaker. They would be tied in division record and common-game record. They would be tied in conference record.

Which moves them all the way down to the “strength of victory” tiebreaker.

That involves uncommon teams on the schedule. In Seattle’s case, it plays the New York Giants and Minnesota, a combined 2-11, and the 49ers do not. San Francisco plays Green Bay and Washington, a combined 6-6, and the Seahawks do not.

So, if both teams were to lose just two games and split against each other, with a common loss to Indianapolis, the 49ers would have homefield advantage.

But, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First up is a “championship week” against the 3-4 Rams and their backup quarterback.

We’ll deal with forever later.

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