A look ahead towards the season awaiting the Seattle Seahawks reveals some ominous challenges, as well as many favorable opportunities. Road games against formidable opponents are balanced by home games against easier competition. The key for the Seahawks this year will be holding serve against weaker teams so they qualify for the playoffs even if they stumble against stronger rivals.
Cautious Optimism: A Preview Of The Upcoming Seattle Seahawks Schedule
Like the President’s first 100 days, the first two games of the football season are often a good barometer of a team’s prospects for future success. Conventional wisdom and statistical records demonstrate that a team can afford to lose one game, but not two. An 0-2 start to the season often spells doom for a team’s playoffs chances, although the Seahawks defied the odds a couple years ago by qualifying for the playoffs even after losing their first two games.
Strive For Excellence, Not Perfection
This year, the Seahawks can afford to lose their first game, but not their second. The season opener features a daunting matchup against the Green Bay Packers on the road at the intimidating venue of Lambeau Field. Many fans consider the claim that losing is affordable as heresy, but players and coaches need to keep realistic expectations. Offensive units often need a warm up period to find their rhythm early in the season, especially with Seattle’s young offensive line. Veteran quarterback Aaron Rodgers may find the adjustment much more routine. The Seahawks should not be criticized too harshly if they lose a close game to a perennial contender like the Packers.
A loss at home the following week to the lowly San Francisco 49ers would be much more disappointing for the Seahawks’ playoff and championship aspirations. The 49ers recently signed five time Pro Bowl defensive lineman Elvis Dumervil, one of the best pass rushers in the game with nearly 100 career sacks. Because of their inexperienced offensive line, the Seahawks often struggle against weaker teams with unusually strong pass rushes. Last year, for example, the Los Angeles Rams upset Seattle, largely because they were able to pressure franchise quarterback Russell Wilson. Still, the 49ers need to improve at many more positions if they hope to become competitive again. This game should be an easy win for the Seahawks, although there are no guarantees in this league.
Holding Serve Against Weaker Competition
Should Seattle open with at least a split of its first two games, a series of easier matchups follows before their week six bye. The Tennessee Titans and Indianapolis Colts are middle of the pack teams, but should not be taken lightly. The Los Angeles Rams should not pose much of a threat, although they did upset the Seahawks last year. Seattle needs to win most, if not all, of these games if they hope to secure home field advantage and a first round bye in the postseason.
Their week six bye early in the season is unfortunate, because usually injuries and fatigue do not become as much of a factor until later in the regular season. Sometimes, the bye can actually disrupt momentum when a team is playing well. The early bye will only prove beneficial if the Seahawks struggle early, and need time to regroup.
A Test Of Survival
Moreover, the Seahawks face an extremely difficult contest the next week on the road against a strong New York Giants team. With their acquisition of star wide receiver Brandon Marshall and a much improved defense, the Giants are legitimate Super Bowl contenders this year. The Giants defense actually finished ahead of the Seahawks last year in points allowed, second only to Super Bowl champions New England Patriots. This is another game the Seahawks can afford to lose, but only if they win out against their easier opponents.
The following week features a compelling matchup at home against star defensive end J.J. Watt and the Houston Texans. They continue their home stand the following week against an inconsistent, but dangerous Washington Redskins team. The team then plays a Thursday night matchup against divisional rivals the Arizona Cardinals. The next week, Seattle hosts the Super Bowl LI runners-up in the Atlanta Falcons. This will not be an easy stretch of games by any means, but all of the contests are certainly winnable.
Finishing Strong Down The Home Stretch
Should the Seahawks struggle in the preceding weeks, they will face a string of easier competition that may help them regain momentum. Like in recent years, the Hawks can always count on their next opponent the 49ers to help renew their confidence. They will then face the Philadelphia Eagles, Jacksonville Jaguars and Los Angeles Rams. Seattle will most likely be the clear favorite in each of these contests.
A marquis matchup on the road against likely Super Bowl contenders the Dallas Cowboys awaits the Seahawks on Christmas Eve. The storyline here will be how the Legion of Boom and elite Seahawks defense performs against Cowboys star quarterback Dak Prescott, wide receiver Dez Bryant and running back Ezekiel Elliott. This game could very well be a preview of the NFC Championship.
The regular season concludes with a home game against the struggling Arizona Cardinals. This game should provide some insurance in case the Seahawks still need another win to secure a playoff berth or improve its playoff positioning.
The Seahawks are certainly capable of winning every game they play this year. They will be the favorite in most of their games, with the exception of some tough road games against likely Super Bowl contenders. Fortunately, the Seahawks will benefit from playing in a weak division, perhaps enabling them to qualify for the playoffs almost by default. As long as they avoid major upsets, the Seahawks will be in position to make a deep run in the postseason, with a Super Bowl victory a definite possibility.