Sunday began with some optimistic news for the Seahawks — two national reports that quarterback Russell Wilson might have to miss only three games after having surgery on his right middle finger Friday.
The NFL Network and ESPN reported that Wilson thinks he may be able to return in time for the Seahawks’ game at Green Bay on Nov. 14, which would mean missing only three games since they have a bye on Nov. 7.
Both called it a best-case scenario, and the team’s official statement Friday stated only that it is “highly anticipated’’ Wilson will return this season.
Wilson suffered a ruptured tendon and a dislocation of the finger when he hit it on the arm of Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald in the third quarter of Thursday’s 26-17 loss to the Rams at Lumen Field.
ESPN quoted an anonymous source close to Wilson saying that missing three games is “now the hope and, depending on some other factors, that’s possible.’’
What will be worth watching is whether the Seahawks place Wilson on injured reserve. Going on IR would mean Wilson would, by rule, have to sit out three games before he could return. They would seem likely to put Wilson on IR if there is no realistic hope he can return earlier, in order to open a roster spot.
The Seahawks could use that opening to promote Jake Luton from the practice squad to the 53-man roster as a backup to Geno Smith, who will take over as the starter.
The Seahawks may have to sign a quarterback to the practice squad as depth. Alex McGough, who was with the team for much of training camp before being waived Aug. 23, remains a free agent and might be a possibility.
The larger objective for the Seahawks is to try to stay close in the NFC West — and the conference overall — while Wilson heals.
Sunday’s results may have painted an even more ominous picture for the Seahawks as they navigate life without Wilson for any length of time since he arrived in 2012, his streak of 149 straight starts now about to end.
Arizona held off the stubborn 49ers 17-10 to improve to 5-0 for the first time since 1974, remaining the only unbeaten team in the NFL, meaning the Seahawks are three games back in the NFC West.
And the Seahawks’ next two opponents — Pittsburgh and New Orleans — also got wins behind bounce-back games from their veteran quarterbacks, who each will be eager to test a Seahawks pass defense allowing 305.6 yards per game, on pace to be the seventh worst in NFL history.
Here’s a look at the Seahawks’ upcoming opponents:
Oct. 17 at Pittsburgh: A matchup of two 2-3 teams and no Wilson is not what the NFL had in mind when it put this game in the Sunday night prime-time slot. There are no lack of story lines as the loser of a game pitting two teams who were each among the top 10 in Super Bowl odds in the preseason will be looking at a tough road to the playoffs. And making things no easier for the Seahawks is the previously struggling Ben Roethlisberger showing signs of life Sunday, turning in his best game of the season while going 15 of 25 for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-19 win over Denver. The Steelers also finally got their running game going with rookie Najee Harris setting a career high with 122 yards.
Oct. 25 vs. New Orleans: The first of the Seahawks’ two Monday night games comes against one of the most erratic teams in the NFL. The 3-2 Saints have played only one game decided by fewer than 11 points. And after losing last week at home to the previously winless Giants they went to Washington on Sunday and put up 33 points on the WFT, with Jameis Winston throwing four touchdown passes. Winston has just three TDs in his other three games after the opener. Winston is no stranger to big games in Seattle, throwing for four TDs in a game at Lumen Field in 2019 while with Tampa Bay, a 40-34 Seahawks OT win. And Winston and the Saints have their bye week to rest up and prepare for the trip to Seattle.
Oct. 31 vs. Jacksonville: No, it’s not an Urban myth — the Jaguars remain one of two winless teams in the NFL after a 37-19 home loss to the Titans on Sunday, Detroit being the other. Even worse, the Jaguars have now lost 20 in a row dating to last season, only the third team in NFL history to lose 20 or more consecutive games and the first since the 1976-77 Bucs lost 26 straight to begin their franchise.
The Jags have lost four of their five games by 10 points or more, and entered the weekend ranked in the bottom six in both team offense and defense. Their offense continues to show some positive signs, gaining a season-high 454 yards against Tennessee. And like the Saints, the Jaguars have their bye week before the long trip to Seattle after hosting Miami on Oct. 17. While the Seahawks figure to be heavily favored, the game after a Monday nighter presents challenges in even the best of times.
The Seahawks obviously hope to win all three — and that’s not an unlikely scenario. But at the least the Seahawks need to win two and get to 4-4 before Wilson can potentially return for the trip to Green Bay. That game is followed by a visit to Seattle by Arizona on Nov. 21 that might loom as the Seahawks’ last/best chance to get back into the division race.
The trick over the next month is to make that game meaningful.