A sense of dread is the only appropriate feeling heading into the hours leading up to the NFL releasing its schedule. “How will the NFL fuck us over THIS year?” Early BYE week? Too many 10am starts? Too many road primetime games? Get saddled with playing too many teams coming off of their own BYE weeks? Long road trips? Back-to-back trips to the East Coast?
The appropriate response to seeing your team’s schedule ranges from pure, unadulterated rage (on the bad side), to wincing, cautious relief (on the best side). This year, I’m more or less happy to report that I feel closer to relief than rage. And I want to believe it’s NOT just because everyone I follow on Twitter seemed to like it.
- Week 1 – vs. Miami, 1:05pm
- Week 2 – @ Los Angeles, 1:05pm
- Week 3 – vs. San Francisco, 1:05pm
- Week 4 – @ New York Jets, 10am
- Week 5 – BYE
- Week 6 – vs. Atlanta, 1:25pm
- Week 7 – @ Arizona, 5:30pm
- Week 8 – @ New Orleans, 10am
- Week 9 – vs. Buffalo, Monday Night
- Week 10 – @ New England, 5:30pm
- Week 11 – vs. Philadelphia, 1:25pm
- Week 12 – @ Tampa Bay, 1:05pm
- Week 13 – vs. Carolina, 5:30pm
- Week 14 – @ Green Bay, 1:25pm
- Week 15 – vs. Los Angeles, 5:30pm
- Week 16 – vs. Arizona, 1:25pm
- Week 17 – @ San Francisco, 1:25pm
Immediate reaction: I don’t hate it! Only two 10am starts. Only one set of back-to-back road games. Doesn’t appear to be as front-loaded with difficult opponents like last year. Yeah, the Week 5 BYE sucks, but I’m always going to hate where the BYE week falls. There should be one designated BYE week for every football team, smack dab in the middle of the season, so it’s fair for everyone. Since that’s literally NEVER going to happen, and they apparently have this aversion to lumping them all into a 4-week period in the middle of the season, we get what we get.
We knew the teams we were going to play long before this. We also knew which teams we’d play at home and which we’d play on the road. This just lines them up in the correct order. So, you know, we always KNEW that the tougher opponents would be on the road (not counting divisional opponents, we’re talking about the Jets, the Patriots, the Packers, and MAYBE the Bucs). The only good break for the Seahawks is getting Carolina at home; but the rest of the home slate looks pretty easy.
I mean, you tell me, would you rather play the Pats and Jets at home (with the Bills and Dolphins on the road), or vice versa?
Anyway, if you believe, like I do, that Miami will be pushovers, then we should get off to a good start to the season. If you believe, like I do, that the Seahawks are fundamentally better than the Rams, then it should be no problem to beat them on the road, Jeff Fisher or no Jeff Fisher (also, not for nothing, LOVE having the Rams back in L.A., and having one less 10am start every season!). If you believe, like I do, that the 49ers are a fucking trainwreck, then YAY, the Seahawks will start the season 3-0! The only thing stopping us from a perfect run headed into the BYE week is a road trip to New Jersey to play the Jets. Will they have Ryan Fitzpatrick back at quarterback? Even if they do, are they any good? Or was their winning record last year padded by a shit schedule? If you believe, like I do, that the Seahawks are also fundamentally better than the Jets, then the Seahawks have no one to blame but themselves if they’re not 4-0 headed into the BYE.
Atlanta is like Miami, in that they’re a couple of those middle-of-the-road teams. I like catching them both at home, if for nothing else than we avoid two INSANELY long flights to the southeast. The Seahawks SHOULD beat Atlanta to go to 5-0 and get off to their best start, maybe ever. That leads us to road games against Arizona and New Orleans. To be on the safe side, let’s say the Seahawks go 1-1 in those games (odds are, we lose the Arizona one, even though we’ve handled them pretty well on the road in recent years). That gets us to 6-1 with a Monday night showdown against the Bills, which is an interesting choice, I guess, but don’t you remember when Monday Night Football had marquee matchups? Don’t you wish we’d get more divisional games on Monday Night, instead of these oddball pairings? I dunno, maybe it’s inspired. I like Tyrod Taylor a lot, and I suppose we’re going to get 50,000 comparisons to him and Russell Wilson, since they’re both from the same area growing up. But, in the end, it’s probably a Seahawks walkover.
Which gets us to 7-1 and my Lock of the Year. Following our Monday night game, we go on the road to play the Patriots the following Sunday night. The Patriots, it just so happens, will be coming off of a BYE week the week before (the only such instance on the Seahawks’ schedule, so I guess that’s not too bad). But, it’s in their stadium, and you know how they like to sabotage opponents with their headset communications and in their locker rooms and whatnot. Don’t think for a minute that the Seahawks are going to overcome all of that – AND, ohbytheway, it’s also a rematch of Super Bowl XLIX, so get ready to see The Play over and over and over again in the days leading up to the game, as well as all throughout the game itself. If the Seahawks don’t lose this game, I’ll eat my hat (with the caveat being that I assume Tom Brady will be healthy for this game, otherwise, all bets are off). This game is just going to be the worst; I almost don’t even want to watch it.
Once we get over this hump, though, we’ll be 7-2 and headed into the home stretch of the season. Host Philly the next week, they should be pushovers. At Tampa Bay has the potential to be a struggle, but they still feel like a year or two away. Hosting Carolina will be huge – as you have to expect both the Panthers and the Seahawks will be in the running for the top seed in the NFC – but I like our chances to finally get back at them after losing twice in the 2015 season. At Green Bay will be tough. It’s in December, so the weather could factor in. The Packers are always tough at home. Probably count that one as a loss, to put us at 10-3. Then, we host L.A. and Arizona in back to back weeks, and you know I like us at home. With the 49ers on the road being just a cakewalk, I’m looking at a 13-3 season! We’ll see how my feelings change in the ensuing months, but if you promised me a 13-3 season right now, I’d gladly shake your hand and say, “You’ve got a deal!”