This just in – you will have NFL football back in your life for the next 17 consecutive Sundays – and that’s just the regular season.
Four of those Sundays will not feature the Seahawks, as they have three prime time games on Thursday or Monday Night in weeks 5, 10, and 13, and their bye week in week 11. The Seahawks will also be featured on Sunday Night Football in weeks 12 and 14 (depending on NBC’s flex schedule).
The rest of their schedule will be featured in regional broadcasts provided by FOX and CBS. With only four of their games starting in the 10am slot (weeks 2, 6, 8, and 15), you can plan your autumn and winter Sundays knowing you’ll have, at the very least, the morning and 12’o’clock hour to do as you please.
The Seattle Seahawks (and since this is the Pacific Northwest, there’s a very good chance they are your Seattle Seahawks) are set up nicely to play the dark horse in the NFC. With most talking heads and fans of other teams writing them off as a team in transition, they have the potential to upset the balance of power in the conference and do it without the pressure of high expectations.
Last year they broke in new schemes on both sides of the ball as well as many new faces, and they made a concerted effort to get back to their preferred method of a ball control offense partnered with a stingy defense. The result was a 10-6 record, a wild card playoff berth, the top rushing offense, the #16 defense, and the #11 scoring defense. Not bad for the first year of the post-Legion-of-Boom era.
This year, they hope to take the next step. If last year was the new version of their 2012 season, they have high hopes that this year will be another 2013, when they took the league by storm behind a power running game, a sneaky good second year Russell Wilson, and one of the greatest and most complete defenses ever assembled. While it may sound like a lofty goal to replicate one of the greatest seasons in franchise history, it actually doesn’t sound any less likely now than it did in the fall of 2013. At least this time, we have the luxury of knowing they have done it before.
You may recall the San Francisco 49ers looked like the clear cut Super Bowl favorites for the NFC, as they had won their division in consecutive years, were the defending NFC Champions and runner ups in the 2012 Super Bowl (aka Harbaugh). That didn’t stop Seattle from stunning their division rival and ending their dynasty before it could begin. They face a very similar task with the LA Rams this year, who as luck would have it, are the defending NFC Champions, have won consecutive division titles, and were the runner up in last year’s Super Bowl.
One key difference between the 2012 49ers and the 2018 Rams is that Seattle went 1-1 with the 49ers, and went 0-2 with the Rams, so we’ll see if Seattle can beat the Rams for the first time since week 5 of the 2017 season when they face each other in week five on Thursday Night Football in Seattle.
While their 2013 season is fondly remembered for its loud games played in the rain at CenturyLink Stadium, the truth is that despite their 10-1 record heading into their bye week, there were questions about the quality of their opponents and how they would hold up down the stretch. That perception changed following their week 13 matchup, when they hosted the 9-2 New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football, a 34-7 drubbing of one of the best teams in the league. The game was not as close as the score would indicate as Seattle took a 27-0 lead into halftime and shut the Saints out in the second half, holding QB Drew Brees to 147 passing yards on 38 attempts. Prior to that loss, the Saints’ other two defeats were by one score. Seattle will have the chance to pull off a similar statement in front of a national audience when they travel to face the Eagles on Sunday Night Football following their week 11 bye, or when they host the Vikings the following week on Monday Night Football. They are also slated to face the Rams in LA on Sunday Night Football in week 14, so if they haven’t convinced us they are back to 2013 form by the close of week 14, it won’t be for a lack of national attention.
So how can they alert the league they are ready to get back to dominating on defense? It all started when they traded disgruntled DE Frank Clark to Kansas City in exchange for the Chiefs’ first-round pick, which turned into DE LJ Collier. They also signed former Lions DE Ezekiel Ansah, and traded LBs Jacob Martin and Barkevious Mingo along with a 2020 3rd round pick to the Houston Texans for DE Jadeveon Clowney. Pairing Clowney with Ansah and rotating in Collier along with LBs Bobby Wagner, KJ Wright, and Mychal Kendricks should give Seattle one of the most dominant front sevens league-wide. The Seahawks hope that the run support and pass rush generated by their front seven will aid their young secondary Shaquill Griffin, Tre Flowers, Bradley McDougald, and Tedric Thompson as they develop on field chemistry after starting together for most of last season. McDougald is the only veteran in the defensive backfield, as Griffin, Flowers, and Thompson all have 2 years or less as a starter. Seattle drafted safety Marquise Blaire in the second round, and time will tell if he can develop into a starter and unseat Thompson McDougald. Griffin and Flowers both have shown flashes and possess the physical traits head coach Pete Carroll looks for in corners, but neither has established himself as elite cover corners yet, which former Seahawk Richard Sherman had accomplished in his second year.
On offense, things are a bit more up in the air. QB Russell Wilson is the key that makes this team go, but aside from him there are a lot of question marks. Wide receiver Doug Baldwin retired in the offseason, leaving Tyler Lockett as the main threat on the outside. Freak athlete DK Metcalf was drafted in the second round and appears ready for week one after some light knee surgery, whatever that might actually mean. If Metcalf can develop chemistry with Wilson early on, he could help form a formidable 1-2 punch with Lockett on the outside with Wilson’s favorite David Moore in the slot, once Moore returns from a shoulder injury. Veteran receiver Jaron Brown will also be involved, but how large a role will depend on the health of Metcalf and Moore. RB Chris Carson is looking to build on his breakout 2018 season, but his health remains a concern as he has missed 14 games over his first two seasons. When healthy, there is not a better candidate for Marshawn Lynch’s heir in this offense.
Seattle certainly has the talent and the coaching to put it all together, but they will have to prove it early, which may be to their benefit. By the time they hit the meat of their schedule, they will be battle tested. They get to open their season at home against the listless Cincinnati Bengals, then travel to Pittsburgh in week two, host the Saints in week three, and close out the first month of their season with their first divisional game at Arizona in week four. Their schedule doesn’t ease up much after that but if they can head into October 2-2 or better, they should have a shot at replicating their 2013 season and showing this league what they can do. A lot of that depends on health and luck, and Seattle will need plenty of both to succeed. That’s not a shot at this team, it’s just the honest truth on what it takes to win it all. You need some combination of health and luck, and all the breaks.
Here’s to hoping Seattle surprises us all this season. It starts with their kickoff game this Sunday at 1:05pm on FOX. Will you be there to watch as they start their season and health and luck allowing, their ascent to the top? I know I will be.