Reporters Bob Condotta and Jayson Jenks break down each Seahawks game this year.
The Seahawks are an 8-1 choice, second to New England at 6-1, to win the Super Bowl, according to the Las Vegas SuperBook. However, Seattle also has the fifth-toughest schedule, with opponents having won 54.3 percent of their games last season. An inside look at each game:
Week 1: Miami
Sunday, Sept. 11
The setup: Just the fifth visit by the Dolphins to Seattle for the regular season and first since 2004 also serves as a reminder of one of the low points of the Pete Carroll era — a 24-21 loss in Miami in 2012 the most recent time the teams played. The loss dropped Seattle to 6-5. The Seahawks won their last five to get into the playoffs and since that game are 40-13 in the regular season.
The key player: Offensive tackles Garry Gilliam/Bradley Sowell/J’Marcus Webb. Seattle’s rebuilt offensive line will get a big test against a defensive line that might be the Dolphins’ strength. Tackle Ndamukong Suh is the most-feared presence. But ends Cameron Wake and Mario Williams might be as big of an issue.
Week 2: at Los Angeles
Sunday, Sept. 18
The setup: The Seahawks are playing in Los Angeles for the first time since 1988, and they’re playing an opponent that has been their kryptonite the past few years. The Rams beat the Seahawks twice last year, the first division opponent to sweep the Seahawks since the 49ers in 2011.
The key player: The interior offensive line. OK, so that’s not just one player, but it usually takes more than one player to stop Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald, one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive linemen. He has been a handful (and then some) for the Seahawks.
|Bob Condotta||Jayson Jenks||Ed Guzman||Matt Calkins||Larry Stone|
Week 3: San Francisco
Sunday, Sept. 25
The setup: What was once one of the most-anticipated home game of the season for the Seahawks has lost some luster with the 49ers’ fall the past two years. But new coach Chip Kelly’s offense should be improved, even if Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback.The Seahawks also catch the 49ers without top pass rusher Aaron Lynch, who is suspended for the first four games of the season.
The key player: Running back Thomas Rawls. He had his breakout game last season against the 49ers at home with 209 yards on 30 carries. Rawls might not have to carry the running game this season with Christine Michael emerging. But in what would be Rawls’ third regular-season game back after suffering a broken ankle, he might be ready to.
Week 4: at N.Y. Jets
Sunday, Oct. 2
The setup: The last time the Seahawks played at MetLife Stadium, they were demolishing the Broncos on their way to winning the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
The key player: Cornerback Richard Sherman. Sherman and the rest of Seattle’s corners will be tasked with stopping Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, who had more than 1,500 yards receiving last season and led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches.
Week 5: Atlanta
Sunday, Oct. 16
The setup: Dan Quinn, the defensive coordinator for Seattle during the Super Bowl seasons of 2013 and 2014, makes his return with the Falcons, hoping to recapture the magic of the 6-1 start in 2015 and not the 2-7 finish that doomed his first season in Atlanta. Atlanta hasn’t played in Seattle since a 30-28 win early in 2011.
The key player: Linebacker K.J. Wright. When Matt Ryan isn’t throwing it to receiver Julio Jones, he likes to get it to running back Devonta Freeman, who had 1,634 yards of total offense last season, fifth in the NFL.
Week 6: at Arizona
Sunday, Oct. 23
The setup: The Seahawks and Cardinals are expected to battle it out for the NFC West title this year, but the Seahawks have won the past three games in Arizona, including the past two by a combined score of 71-12.
The key player: The Seahawks’ starting left tackle. That’s who’s going to have to block Chandler Jones, the pass-rusher the Cardinals traded for this offseason to shore up their glaring weakness from previous seasons.
Week 7: at New Orleans
Sunday, Oct. 30
The setup: The Seahawks and Saints have had some memorable playoff games in recent years. Now Seattle makes its first trip to New Orleans since 2010 in a tricky part of the schedule — the week after a showdown at Arizona and in the second of three road games in four weeks.
The key player: Tight end Jimmy Graham. Graham will be in the spotlight, playing his first game in New Orleans since the trade that brought him to Seattle. On paper, things set up well for Graham to have a successful return — he should have the rust shaken off from a season-ending torn patellar tendon, and the Saints have a passing defense that was historically bad in 2015.
Week 8: Buffalo
Monday, Nov. 7
The setup: The Seahawks’ lone Monday night game comes against the Ryan brothers, Rex And Rob, and a Buffalo team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 1999.
The key player: Defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin. The Seahawks were effective in stopping running back LeSean McCoy when he was in Philadelphia. Rubin will be a big part of stopping him now that McCoy is in Buffalo.
Week 9: at New England
Sunday, Nov. 13
The setup: This will be the first game between the teams since a certain Super Bowl whose ending you might remember, no matter how hard you try to forget. This might be a good week for Seahawks fans to skip the hype. More relevant is that the game will mark a tough turnaround for Seattle after the Monday nighter the week before.
The key player: Quarterback Russell Wilson. Wilson will have to endure a week (the one blessing of it being a short one) of reliving the most infamous moment of his career. But Wilson has shown that little fazes him and he’ll no doubt relish the chance to go head to head again with Tom Brady. He’s 1-1 against Brady, the win one of his breakout moments as a rookie in 2012.
Week 10: Philadelphia
Sunday, Nov. 20
The setup: With the Eagles trading starting quarterback Sam Bradford eight days before the regular-season opener, it appears the Seahawks will be facing rookie Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall draft pick.
The key player: Receiver Doug Baldwin. The Eagles struggled stopping the pass last season, ranking 28th in yards allowed, meaning Baldwin could be in for a big game.
Week 11: at Tampa Bay
Sunday, Nov. 27
The setup: It’s another long midseason trip for the Seahawks on Thanksgiving weekend to take on the Jameis Winston-led Buccaneers. Winston is one reason Tampa Bay is a chic pick to be a surprise team in 2016, after he threw for 4,042 yards as a rookie.
The key player: Defensive lineman Michael Bennett. After being released by the Seahawks in 2009 Bennett landed in Tampa Bay and revived his career — but not so much so that the Bucs felt compelled to keep him. Greg Schiano, regarded as the main person who didn’t want Bennett back in Tampa Bay, has since been fired. Still, expect Bennett to want to show the Bucs what they missed out on.
Week 12: Carolina
Sunday, Dec. 4
The setup: The Seahawks blew a fourth-quarter lead against the Panthers at home last year, and if history suggests anything about these matchups, it’s that this one should be close.
The key player: Linebacker Bobby Wagner. One of Wagner’s main responsibilities is shadowing quarterbacks who can run like Cam Newton.
Week 13: at Green Bay
Sunday, Dec. 11
The setup: The Seahawks will travel to Lambeau Field for the second time in the past two years, and this time when it really could be a “Frozen Tundra’’ rather than last year’s September meeting. Some likely will tout this game an NFC Championship Game preview.
The key player: Cornerback Richard Sherman. Many viewed the Week 2 loss at Green Bay last season as a rare vulnerable moment for Sherman, who was tagged for a pass interference that set up a Packers field goal. Expect Sherman to downplay any revenge motive during the week and to then try to get it Sunday.
Week 14: Los Angeles
Thursday, Dec. 15
The setup: Rams running back Todd Gurley was named Rookie of the Year in 2015 and rushed for more than 1,100 yards. He presents a big challenge for the Seahawks, who traditionally have been tough against the run.
The key player: Safety Earl Thomas. Gurley had 11 runs of 20 yards last season and five runs of 40 yards. Thomas acts as Seattle’s fire extinguisher, charged with eliminating big plays.
Week 15: Arizona
Saturday, Dec. 24
The setup: A Christmas Eve home matchup against the defending NFC West champs might determine the division title. Arizona has won two of three in Seattle since Bruce Arians became coach, including a wild 39-32 win last year that essentially sewed up the division.
The key player: Defensive end Cliff Avril. Avril had 2.5 of his nine sacks last season against Arizona, forcing a fumble of Carson Palmer on one that resulted in a Seahawks touchdown. Pressure off the edge always is the key for teams that play against Arizona’s offense and the stationary Palmer, and it will be again this season.
Week 16: at San Francisco
Sunday, Jan. 1
The setup: The Seahawks have allowed the fewest points in the NFL for four consecutive seasons. Could they be going for an unprecedented fifth consecutive year in the season finale?
The key player: Wilson. Mostly, he’s the key player because we’ll be evaluating what kind of season he had at this point. Did he live up to the hype of his MVP-like performance in the second half of 2015?