Tim Lewis: Seahawks control own fate this weekend

Tim Lewis: Seahawks control own fate this weekend
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, talks with head coach Pete Carroll, right, during warmups before an NFL football game against the Arizona Cardinals, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

SEATTLE -- The Seahawks know exactly what they have to do on Sunday -- win.

Seattle (12-3) squares off against St. Louis (7-8) this weekend with the NFC West on the line. If the Seahawks beat the Rams, they win the division and the top-seed in the conference. A loss leaves the door wide open for the 49ers.

"It's the last week of the season and it couldn't be more exciting," said Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll.

San Francisco (11-4) beat Atlanta 34-24 on Monday Night Football to get within one game of the Seahawks in the NFC West. If Seattle falls to the Rams on Sunday, all is not lost. That's because the 49ers must beat Arizona this weekend to keep their title hopes alive. A San Francisco tie or loss against the Cardinals locks up the NFC West for Seattle, no matter what happens in Seattle on Sunday.

"It can happen in different ways, but we're really concerned about doing it our way," said Carroll. "We'd like to win this last game and win our division."

There's going to be a lot of fans flipping channels on Sunday. The Seahawks and 49ers both kickoff their respective games at 1:25 p.m. That means they should both technically wrap up around the same time, too. No matter what, we'll have a division champion crowned by Sunday evening. It's just unclear who it's going to be right now.

Keep in mind, the 49ers hold a division record tie-breaker over the Seahawks. So, if Seattle happens to lose on Sunday and they fall to 12-4 and San Francisco beats Arizona to also move to 12-4 -- the 49ers would take the NFC West title.

That's why the term "win-win situation" doesn't apply to the Seahawks this week. They earn everything with a victory, but a loss could be devastating. Here's the reason why:

When it comes to the NFL playoffs, division champions occupy the top four seeds in each conference. Since they'd have the best record in the NFC with a win, the Seahawks would be the No. 1-seed. That one-seed comes with a first round bye and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. If San Francisco rallies to win the division, Seattle slips to the No. 5-seed. That five-seed means the Seahawks would have to play in the first round of the postseason on the road.

In other words, this is not "just another game" (as the old sports cliche goes) for the Seahawks. This is an enormous opportunity for Seattle. A win means a smoother postseason road, while a loss makes life much more difficult in the playoffs.

Here's my one piece of advice -- don't forget to breathe on Sunday.