by Jackson Safon
The Seahawks have moved from an unrecognized team, only loved by its hometown fans, to a trendy super bowl pick. But now the schedules have been released and I think it’s time for an analysis to see how good of a chance the Seahawks have to win the division. However, because of their NFC West Championship last year, the division still belongs to the 49ers. One cool note about the schedule is the Hawks have the most prime time games out of anyone in the whole league with four. And that number could even increase because of the flex scheduling in the later weeks of the season. Here is an analysis of all of the Seahawks' 16 match-ups this year in the regular season:
At the Panthers. With the Panthers and Cam Newton really taking a step back last year, and the Hawks taking a massive leap forward, I don’t see anything that would prompt me to pick against the Seahawks in this won. Chalk up the win. 1-0.
Home against the 49ers. Sunday Night Football. The home opener is no cupcake as we get the reigning division champs. I think both teams will be improved last from last year and the 49ers offense has a chance to be scary good with the development of Kaepernick and the addition of Anquan Boldin. Both teams will be fired up for this one because of the rivalry as well as the national television spot and I expect it to be a really good game. As good as the 49ers are, and trust me I think they have a chance to be virtually unstoppable this season, I think the 'Hawks win this one. The home field advantage can’t be understated, and I think the Seahawks match up well against the Niners. Win. 2-0.
It will be a match-up of dual threat QB's early in the season when the 49ers come to town to face the Seahawks.
Home against the Jaguars. Gus Bradley returns. Former 'Hawks defensive coordinator and now Jaguars head coach will get his homecoming sooner rather than later. Too bad it has to be spoiled. Plain and simple the Jaguars aren't very good (although I expect them to be improved from last year), and we are very good. Easy win. 3-0.
At the Texans. This is a tough one. The Texans are not only very good but they are nearly unstoppable in Reliant Stadium. They play pretty good defense, and have J.J. Watt dominating the line of scrimmage. Although Russell Wilson has proved everyone wrong with the whole height thing, I am interested to see if he gets affected at all by Watt’s unbelievable ability to swat passes at the line of scrimmage. Another tough one for the 'Hawks is the fact that the Texans are a much better running team than they are a passing team, and rush defense is the weaker half of the 'Hawks defense. Expect this one to be very close, but I think the Texans will pull it out at home. 3-1.
At the Colts. Although the Colts were a playoff team last year, their scoring margin was that of a .500 team, and that showed when they got handled by the Ravens in the playoffs. One more year under Andrew Luck’s belt and I expect the Colts to be a very solid team, but not enough to contend with the 'Hawks. The Colts offensive line was the worst in the league last season and the new and improved Seahawks pass rush will feast on it all game. Expect a lot of sacks and possibly a few interceptions as well. 'Hawks win. 4-1.
Home against the Titans. Bad team. In the CLink. 'Hawks win. 5-1.
At the Cardinals. Thursday Night Football. Although I do expect the Cardinals to be much improved from last year, I just don’t see how they can hang with the 'Hawks. They play good defense and if Bruce Arians gets a quarterback the Cards could surprise some people, but I still don’t think they are good enough for the Hawks. Not nearly. 6-1.
At the Rams. Monday Night Football. After a short week with a game on Thursday they get even more rest not playing until two Mondays later. This long week will be really helpful because the Rams have a chance to be really good. They play very tough at home and I think they have a chance to make some noise in the division, but an extra long week for the Hawks bodes poorly for St. Louis. Expect a win. 7-1.
The Rams and head coach Jeff Fisher will boast a much improved team this year.
Kevin Casey/Getty Images North America
Home against the Buccaneers. The Bucs were last in the league against the pass last year and I expect Russell Wilson to have a feast in this game. However, their offense was decent with Doug Martin running the ball and Freeman chucking it down field This one has a chance to be a shootout, but no matter the type of game, the Seahawks are still much more talented. 'Hawks win. 8-1.
At the Falcons. The rematch. The Seahawks lost a heart-breaker to the Falcons in the playoffs last season at the Georgia Dome which would have sent the 'Hawks to the conference championship game. Tough loss. Chance to avenge it here. I am a serious believer in Matt Ryan at home in the regular season, but I think this is one game he just can’t win. I can’t even imagine how fired up the 'Hawks will be and I think they take this one on the road in a nail biter. 9-1.
Home against the Vikings. Adrian Peterson is superhuman so the Vikings always have a chance. But I always like the Seahawks at home. Without a quarterback and a linebacking crew, I don’t see the Vikings keeping this one close. 10-1.
BYE. This gives me a chance to put in some notes. It scares me a little bit to be typing 10-1 through our first 11 games. That’s a really good start. Perhaps too good to be true. However, I think it’s going to happen. Also, this next set of games after the bye week is so unbelievably critical it’s hard to understate. Three VERY good teams in a row. Read on.
Home against the Saints. Monday Night Football. Dun dun dun dun... Dun dun.. dun dun.. Dun dun dun dun dun... dun dun.. dun dun... That doesn't really have the same affect without the actual MNF music (actual music: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrnY11pXSFE ). But I was trying to get you pumped up, because this is a huge game. National television against one of the premier offensives and premier teams in the NFC. The Saints under performed last year, but I expect them to bulk up on defense at the draft, and with Sean Payton back that offense can do anything. Defensively, this will be the biggest challenge for the Seahawks all season. The extra week of preparation will help, but I say it’s a loss. Tough game. 10-2.
Drew Brees and the pass-heavy Saints could prove to be too much for the Seahawks.
At the 49ers. Wow. Right after we get the Saints we have to go to San Francisco on a short week. That’s a tough one. As good as the Seahawks are this year, I think the 49ers have an outside shot to be better. Plus, playing in Candlestick isn't easy. Niners win. Back to back losses is tough. 10-3.
At the Giants. I said the next stretch of games would be key didn't I? Another tough game. The Giants will return strong after a down year last year. I think they could be a tough match-up for us, but I have a feeling we pull this one out. Even in the Meadowlands. 11-3.
If the Hawks could go through weeks 13-15 with at least two wins I think that would be a colossal success.
Home against the Cardinals. Like I said before, Arizona will be much better than last year and surprise some people; but they can’t beat the Seahawks in Seattle. This does have some potential to be a trap game however because the 'Hawks would have just come off three monster games. I hate to say it, but it wouldn't be completely out of the realm to slip a tad bit and lose this game. But I don’t see it happening. Not at home. 'Hawks win. 12-3.
Home against the Rams. The Rams will be good. I believe it. Good defense and an improving quarterback. They tied the 49ers in San Francisco last year and should have won it except for a couple penalties, so it wouldn't be impossible for them to win in Seattle as well. This game though is one that could decide who wins the division as I expect the Seahawks and 49ers to be neck and neck for the regular season title. Because of that, I know the 'Hawks will come out firing and win this game. 13-3.
Okay 13-3. That would be an absolutely fantastic season. Furthermore, optimistically, the Hawks could finish 15-1 with wins at Houston which I think will be very close, and a home win against the Saints. I do not think the Hawks can win all three games in weeks 13-15 however so I don’t really think a perfect season is coming. Although it wouldn't be impossible…anyways. Pessimistically, the Hawks could finish a much worse 10-6, with potential losses being @ Colts, @ Falcons, and @ Giants. Any of these three finishes or something in between could be plausible, but I think this Seahawks team has a chance to be very good. Historically good. Perhaps even Super Bowl good. No need to count your chickens yet, but if I were you, I wouldn't miss too many games this year.