Some national observers have said the Seahawks caught some breaks from the NFL schedule makers this year as opposed to past years. Here's five reasons they may be right.
By the simplest and maybe most objective measure there is — the combined winning percentage of opponents — the Seahawks will play one of the most difficult schedules in the NFL in 2016.
The combined won-loss record a year ago of Seattle’s 2016 opponents was 139-117, a winning percentage of .543 which is tied for the fifth-highest in the NFL.
That’s just slightly down from last year, when the Seahawks played a schedule of teams who had gone 142-112-2 the previous year, or a .559 winning percentage. That was the fourth highest.
A day-after glance at Seattle’s 2016 regular season schedule released Thursday, though, indicates that even when just using the eye test, this year’s schedule may be significantly more favorable than a year ago.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Mariners brawl with Angels after being thrown at twice; eight ejected
- Why the Mariners aren't the ones to blame for brawl with Angels
- Mariners beat Angels again, run winning streak to season-high five games
- What it means for UW men's basketball that Seattle's three NBA first-rounders played elsewhere
- Offensive tackle Elishah Jackett and defensive lineman Sua Lefotu join long line of new UW football commits
Among those who agree is NFL.com, which listed Seattle as one of the five teams who caught some breaks from the schedule makers (though to reiterate, the opponents were set through the NFL’s scheduling formula with the league then simply picking the dates and times of matchups already set)
Wrote NFL.com of Seattle’s schedule:
“The Seahawks have relatively smooth sailing to begin their season assuming they don’t hit a roadblock or sustain a major injury. A home game against the Dolphins, a short road trip to Los Angeles to possibly face a rookie quarterback, a home game against the 49ers and a road game against the Jets isn’t the worst way kick off 2016. We’re assuming the Jets maintain status quo and re-sign Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that is really their best-case scenario. In fact, the Seahawks really don’t have a premier matchup until their Oct. 23 game against the Cardinals. After that? It’s a Nov. 13 game against the Patriots. Things are lining up well for coach Pete Carroll, who gets the tough teams atop the NFC East and NFC South, but also gets the bottom-feeders).’’
Another thing to reiterate — there’s an awful lot that can happen between now and when games are played to make initial assessments of schedules look foolish in retrospect. I’m reminded of what was thought of Seattle’s schedule in 2013 and what looked like potentially brutal road games against Houston, Atlanta and the New York Giants, who had gone a combined 34-14 in 2012.
Each collapsed in 2013, going a combined 13-35, with the Seahawks beating all three (albeit having to survive a scare against the Texans early in the season before the team was in a freefall to rival this).
So it’s best to proceed with caution when judging the apparent strength of schedules at this stage.
Still, here are five reasons those who say Seattle may have an easier schedule this year might be right.
1, A softer beginning: Seattle last year opened with two in a row on the road, each relatively long trips to St. Louis and Green Bay. With Kam Chancellor’s holdout hovering ominously, Seattle lost both to fall into an 0-2 hole it could never completely escape. Seattle this year opens with Miami, a game in which it has already been pegged as a 7.5-point favorite, and then after a trip to Los Angeles, comes home to face San Francisco, a game in which the Seahawks could be a double-digit favorite. A 3-0 start before heading on the first lengthy trip week four to the New York Jets seems a reasonable expectation for Seattle.
2, Seattle only has one set of back-to-back road games: That compares to last year, when the Seahawks had three sets of back-to-back road games. Seattle actually handled that okay last year after losing the first set, mentioned above, winning each of its next two (at San Francisco and Dallas and then at Minnesota and Baltimore). But this year’s schedule, with what is mostly a week-at-home, week-on-the-road format, seems like it might be a little easier to navigate. The only time Seattle plays two in a row on the road in 2016 is Oct. 23 at Arizona and Oct. 30 at New Orleans.
3, Seattle plays just one team coming off of a bye: Last year, the Seahawks played a league-high four games against teams coming off a bye, going 2-2 in those games. This year, the only team Seattle plays coming off of a bye is New England on Nov. 13. Some have questioned how much byes really factor into performance the following week. But I think the Seahawks thought the byes were a factor last year in the way Carolina and Arizona were able to rally late to pull out wins at CenturyLink following their off weeks (the Eagles drew the bye short straw this year, having to play three straight games against teams coming off byes).
4, The Seahawks have just two games that start at 10 a.m. Seattle time: The Seahawks had four last year — at St. Louis, Cincinnati, Baltimore and Minnesota — going 2-2 in those game. spot. s. Seattle originally had three scheduled with the Baltimore game later flexed to the 10 a.m Basically, Seattle loses one 10 a.m. start through the move of St. Louis to Los Angeles, with this year’s 10 a.m. games coming at the New York Jets and New Orleans. As recently as 2013 the Seahawks had five 10 a.m. games (going 4-1). As SI.com’s Peter King noted today, the number of 10 a.m. Pacific Time games is decreasing around the league, due in part to the move of the Rams as well as almost every West Coast team asking to play as few early starts as possible. As King notes, though, one byproduct is fewer games on TV in that time slot, decreasing the options.
5, The Seahawks don’t have a stretch of four games in 18 days: The increase in Thursday night games has resulted in some teams now having to play four games in 18 days in one stretch of their schedule — a Monday night game, two Sundays and then a Thursday. Seattle was among the teams asked to have to navigate that stretch last year, winning the Monday nighter against Detroit and Thursday nighter at San Francisco but losing the two in between against Cincinnati and Carolina. Seattle escapes that this year, though one team that doesn’t is the Raiders.