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Seahawks schedule analysis: Ranking and breaking down each game on Seattle’s 2020 slate

UPDATED: Fri., May 8, 2020

Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, and teammates wait in the tunnel before a game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Tony Avelar / AP)
Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, left, and teammates wait in the tunnel before a game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Monday, Nov. 11, 2019. (Tony Avelar / AP)
By Bob Condotta Seattle Times

SEATTLE – So we finally have dates, times and TV designations to go along with the team names on the Seahawks’ regular-season schedule for 2020.

It’s a slate of games that, if you’re a believer in strength of schedule based on opponents’ win-loss percentage in 2019, is one of the tougher in the league – and lots of people aren’t, since what a team is one year is often different the next.

But based on that metric, Seattle’s schedule is tied for the 13th-toughest in the NFL with an opponent won-loss percentage of .509 a year ago. Showing the potential flaw in that stat, though, much of that is due to playing the 49ers twice: San Francisco’s 26-6 (13-3 twice) accounts for roughly a fifth of the wins of the 129-125-2 overall record last year of Seattle’s 2020 opponents.

Otherwise, at first glance, it appears a pretty good schedule for Seattle. Only once do the Seahawks have back-to-back road games, meaning there’s no stretch of four out of five games on the road like last season (not that that mattered much as Seattle went 7-1 on the road in 2019).

And paths are there for both a favorable opening and closing. Seattle has three of its first five and three of its last five at home.

Now to review each game with our annual ranking of the contests we’re anticipating the most to those that, well, we’re still anticipating just maybe not quite as much. (And yes, there’s the needed coronavirus caveat that everything feels tenuous right now. We’re gonna go ahead for now as if all these games get played.)

1. Week 8 (Nov. 1) vs. San Francisco: The first of two rematches of the titanic tilts that decided the NFC West last year comes in Seattle, with the Seahawks hoping to again draw first blood. Maybe it’ll help that the 49ers will be coming off a long trip to New England the week before. What will also help is not getting a delay-of-game penalty at the 1-yard line again.

2. Week 10 (Nov. 15) at Los Angeles Rams: The Seahawks’ first visit to the new palace of football in L.A. also shapes up to be a perfect football weekend for fans in California. On the day before, UW plays at USC and WSU plays at UCLA. A 3-0 record (or 2-1 depending on your preference) would make for a fun trip home.

3. Week 17 (Jan. 3) at San Francisco: Could the NFC West come down to one game for a second straight season? If so, flexing this one could also get the Seahawks a fifth prime-time game. Seattle is 5-1 in Santa Clara.

4. Week 3 (Sept. 27) vs. Dallas: Visits from America’s Team are always fun, and the Cowboys will bring the usual huge (inflated?) expectations and attention with them, as well as what might be the highest-paid player in the NFL if Dak Prescott gets a new deal by then to surpass Russell Wilson. That’d make for a good week’s worth of storylines right there.

5. Week 2 (Sept. 20) vs. New England: Well shoot, there’ll be no Tom Brady for this one, no chance for someone to ask him if he’s still mad, bro. And maybe for that reason we could be rating this game too high. On the other hand, this is the home opener, and seeing how things go with a Brady-less Pats team this year will be endlessly fascinating.

6. Week 11 (Nov. 19) vs. Arizona: Seattle’s lone Thursday night game comes at home with an intriguing contrast in streaks. The Seahawks are 9-1 on Thursday night under Pete Carroll but have lost four of their last five and five of their last seven at home to the Cardinals. Something has to give, unless for some cruel reason these two decide to play to a tie again.

7. Week 9 (Nov. 8) at Buffalo: Believe it or not, this will be only the fourth time the Seahawks have played in Buffalo, and the first under Carroll (the last Seattle visit to Buffalo was 2008, as the two teams played in Toronto in 2012), and that curiosity value alone gives this game some intrigue, as does going against a Bills team that last year allowed the second-fewest points in the NFL.

8. Week 16 (Dec. 27) vs. Los Angeles Rams: It’s so hard to know what to make of the Rams. While they took a downturn last year, it’s not as if they didn’t play the Seahawks well, gaining an average of 466 yards in two games against Seattle. But even if the Rams are out of it by then, the hope is obviously that there will be a lot riding on this one for Seattle.

9. Week 12 (Nov. 30) at Philadelphia: A rematch of the wild-card playoff win might have a little more appeal if it weren’t the third trip for Seattle to Philly in basically a year. The sure-to-be well-oiled Eagles fans will surely let Jadeveon Clowney know they are still mad about the hit on Carson Wentz. Unless he’s playing for the Eagles by then …

10. Week 5 (Oct. 11) vs. Minnesota: I must have missed the press release from the NFL that the Seahawks are now contractually obligated to host the Vikings in a prime-time affair every season. This will be the third straight year Seattle has hosted Minnesota on a Sunday or Monday night. Seattle won the previous two by a combined 58-37, which defensive-minded Vikings coach Mike Zimmer will surely remind his players.

11. Week 7 (Oct. 25) at Arizona: A late-October trip to the Valley of the Sun is a lot better than the late September of the last two years (again, assuming things are normal and all that). More relevant is that this will be the first matchup of the year with Kyler Murray and an improving Arizona squad. It might be easy to forget the Cardinals scored 24 or more points in six of their final eight games last year, four of which came against NFC West teams, including a win in Seattle.

12. Week 1 (Sept. 13) at Atlanta: A long trip for the season opener for Seattle comes with the hope the Seahawks can emerge from Atlanta with a win for the second straight season. The Falcons are one of the NFL’s mystery teams. They probably need a winning season for former Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to keep his job after going 7-9 last year – which ended with the Falcons winning their last four to save it for Quinn.

13. Week 4 (Oct. 4) at Miami: While Miami is the site of one of the Seahawks’ greatest wins – the 1983 divisional playoff over Dan Marino and crew – Seattle has only won there one other time, holding a 1-6 record against the Dolphins on the road in the regular season. This game will move up a few notches on this list if Tua Tagovailoa is the starting QB by then.

14. Week 14 (Dec. 13) vs. New York Jets: The second of two home games in two weeks against the New York teams, this gets a slight nod over the visit from the Giants the week before on the anticipation meter since an offense with Sam Darnold and Le’Veon Bell has potential. And maybe we’ll get to hear that George Fant is eligible again.

15. Week 15 (Dec. 20) at Washington: A rare trip to one of the NFL’s storied franchises should maybe rank higher. This is only the second visit for Seattle to Washington since 2005. But the late-December date has us thinking this is just gonna be rainy, muddy and ugly. Seattle is just 1-7 in eight games against Washington in the regular season since 1998.

16. Week 13 (Dec. 6) vs. New York Giants: If you’re a Seahawks fan who has Saquon Barkley on your fantasy team, then this could be a fun day at the CLink. He’ll surely put up some numbers, especially if Seattle’s run defense doesn’t get a lot better. Otherwise, Seattle might be as big of a favorite in this game as it will be all season.

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