Mike Ferreri: Seahawks wait and wonder - who's next?

Mike Ferreri: Seahawks wait and wonder - who's next?
Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, seen here in a game against the Seattle Seahawks on Sept. 24, 2012, could be a formidable opponent in a playoff game. (AP Photo/Stephen Brashear)
The Seahawks have a bye week before their first playoff game and with that, they get to play "wait and see" when it comes to whom their next opponent will be.

One thing they do know - they will face either the Packers, the 49ers or the Saints in their Divisional Round playoff game Jan. 11 at CenturyLink Field.

But which team would the Seahawks have the best chance of beating in order to advance to the NFC Championship game? That's a good question and one people are endlessly asking in conversations over coffee or even an opinion poll on komonews.com.

The Saints are an interesting team. They're 8-0 at home this season but a dreadful 3-5 on the road. One of those five losses took place in Seattle on Monday Night Football back on Dec. 2. The Seahawks blasted the Saints 34-7 and clearly were a superior team. If the Saints beat the Eagles on Saturday night, they'll be coming back to Seattle - this time with so much more on the line.

The Seahawks already have the mental edge on New Orleans after beating them so badly in December, plus they'll have home field noise and damp weather, something the Saints, who play their home games in a dome, don't deal with very well.

New Orleans has never won a road playoff game, they're 0-5. If they can beat Philly they may be one of those teams that suddenly gets hot and can win anywhere once they get over that road playoff game hurdle.

The Packers are a dangerous team in the postseason. It doesn't matter what seed they are. As a No. 6 seed in 2010 they went on the road and beat the Eagles. Then it was on to Atlanta to face the No. 1 seed Falcons who went 13-3, they beat the top seed 48-21. Next stop, the NFC Championship Game where they beat the No. 2 seed Chicago Bears at Soldier Field 21-14 to advance to the Super Bowl where they beat the Steelers. The quarterback for that wild ride by Green Bay was Aaron Rodgers.

Rodgers conveniently returned just in time last week from a broken collarbone to start against the Bears and lead the Packers to an NFC North Division clinching win and a spot in the playoffs. Rodgers threw for 313 yards against the Bears, and while he missed seven games recovering, he didn't miss a beat when he started in Chicago. He'll be even better by the divisional round of the playoffs if the Packers beat the 49ers.

Rodgers is that seasoned quarterback who will pick apart opposing defenses, though I would like to see him try to throw at the Seahawks secondary, one that includes three Pro Bowlers including Richard Sherman, who happens to lead the NFL in interceptions with eight.

The Seahawks didn't play the Packers this season but Green Bay's negative memory from their last time in Seattle still lingers I'm sure. That of course was the "Fail Mary" catch by Golden Tate that gave the Seahawks a last-second win over Green Bay in a game officiated by replacement referees. Aaron Rodgers would like nothing more than to come back and try to avenge that loss.

Rodgers is no doubt the X-Factor for the Packers. The day he returned as the Packers starter Green Bay went from 30-1 favorites to win the Super Bowl to 12-1 favorites.He's a scary quarterback and a proven winner.

Then you have the 49ers. The Seahawks and 'Niners split their regular season games with each team winning on their home fields this season. Regardless of where they meet, the 49ers and Seahawks smack each other around every time they play. The 49ers are defending their NFC championship - but this time they'll be on the road beginning Sunday in frigid Green Bay.

At this point in the season the Seahawks and 49ers know each other well, and there are few surprises - though the possible addition of Percy Harvin could certainly change things up a bit for Seattle offensively.

The 49ers went 12-4 this season, and did not win their division. That alone speaks volumes about the toughness of the NFC West. The 'Niners go into the playoffs on a terrific roll having won six straight games, including nail-biters in the final two weeks over the Falcons and the Cardinals.

While they continue to run the ball effectively, Colin Kaepernick's passing numbers are down, and San Francisco is ranked 30th in the NFL at 186.2 yards per game. But when the 49ers and Seahawks match up it becomes a battle of toughness. It's a matter of waiting to see which side is going to break first on what could likely be a low-scoring game.

Of the three teams that could possibly come to Seattle for the divisional round it's clear the Seahawks would have their best chance against the Saints, based in large part on New Orleans' historic lack of success on the road in the playoffs and their miserable performance on that cold Monday night in early December.

The bottom line, though, is that every team is tough to face this time of year. The playoffs are a high-stakes game where the losers each week lose everything, season over. Whichever team comes to Seattle, they'll give the Seahawks everything they've got - and they'll have to if they want to have a chance of surviving.