For all the talk of how the 2020 NFL schedule might look different due to the coronavirus pandemic, when it was finally unveiled on Thursday the Seahawks’ slate looked pretty similar to most other recent years.
Seattle will play four prime-time games for the eighth consecutive year (and could get the maximum five later if one is flexed), including its home opener Sept. 20 against the Patriots on “Sunday Night Football.” The Seahawks also will play on “Monday Night Football” on Nov. 30 at Philadelphia and will play on “Thursday Night Football” on Nov. 19 at home against Arizona.
The Seahawks will have their bye in Week 6 and four road games that kick off at 10 a.m. Seattle time. But the Seahawks will play back-to-back road games just once and will open with three of their first five at home with a chance to get off to a good start before their bye.
The schedule, though, does include two concessions to the possibility that the season might not start on time.
One is that all teams have two home games and two road games in the first four weeks, which would allow for the league to make cuts to the season and allow for teams to have the same number of home and road games.
Also, each team has the same bye week as its Week 2 opponent — meaning, Seattle and New England have the same bye in Week 6 — which would also allow for a clean way to make up a game later if the season has a delayed start.
The season is scheduled to start the second weekend of September, with Seattle’s opener Sept. 13 at Atlanta.
While there had been a thought that division games might all be later in the year in case adjustments to the schedule have to be made, the Seahawks will play Arizona in the seventh week. That isn’t too different than most previous seasons: Seattle played its first division game last year in Week 4 and will play four of its six division games by Nov. 15.
The Seahawks are slated to close out their season with a game that could have significant postseason implications — Jan. 3 against the 49ers in Santa Clara, California. The Seahawks’ final home game is Dec. 27 against the Rams.
Here’s the full schedule, all times being Seattle time:
Sept. 13: at Atlanta, 10 a.m., FOX.
Sept. 20: vs. New England, 5:20 p.m., NBC (Sunday Night Football).
Sept. 27: vs. Dallas, 1:20 p.m., FOX.
Oct. 4: at Miami, 10 a.m., FOX.
Oct. 11: vs. Minnesota, 5:20 p.m., NBC (Sunday Night Football).
Oct. 18: Bye.
Oct. 25: at Arizona, 1:05, p.m., FOX.
Nov. 1: vs. San Francisco, 1:25, p.m., FOX.
Nov. 8: at Buffalo, 10 a.m., FOX.
Nov. 15: at Los Angeles Rams, 1:25 p.m., FOX.
Nov. 19: vs. Arizona, 5:20 p.m., FOX (Thursday Night Football).
Nov. 30: at Philadelphia, 5:15 p.m., ESPN (Monday Night Football).
Dec. 6: vs. New York Giants, 1:05 p.m., FOX.
Dec. 13: vs. New York Jets, 1:05 p.m., CBS.
Dec. 20: at Washington, 10 a.m., FOX.
Dec. 27: vs. Los Angeles Rams, 1:05 p.m., CBS.
Jan. 3: at San Francisco, 1:25 p.m., FOX.
Here’s a breakdown of a few key items:
Four prime-time games
This is one fewer than the maximum, but flexing of games for TV purposes can change how the season totals end up. Last year Seattle had a prime-time game against Philadelphia flexed to an afternoon start but then had an afternoon game against the 49ers flexed to prime time, ending up with five.
Seattle has played five prime-time games each of the past two seasons and has played at least four every year since 2013.
And yes, the more prime-time games, the better for Seattle.
The Seahawks are 29-7-1 in prime-time games since coach Pete Carroll arrived in 2010, though Seattle was “just” 3-2 last year, losing its last two prime-time games against the Rams and 49ers.
Eight teams got the maximum of five: the Ravens, Patriots, 49ers, Cowboys, Rams, Chiefs, Packers and Tampa Bay with “new” quarterback Tom Brady.
Four dreaded 10 a.m. starts
Given the results of the past few seasons, this should no longer be a reason for worry that it has long been portrayed.
Seattle had five 10 a.m. starts last season and won all five, capping a solid recent string in early starts. Seattle has won its past eight 10 a.m. starts and is 16-6 in its past 22.
Bye is Week 6
This is the earliest bye for Seattle since the 2017 season, when it also fell on Week 6.
Seattle had its bye week last year in Week 11. In 2018 it was in Week 6, following a trip to London to play the Raiders.
Regardless of when they occurred, bye weeks have been good for the Seahawks in recent seasons: They are 7-3 following bye weeks under Carroll and have won their past four.
Wilson finally gets to Buffalo
The Seahawks will play at Buffalo, meaning quarterback Russell Wilson finally will have played at all 31 of the road venues when he entered the league in 2012, if you include the preseason.
This will be Seattle’s first road game against the Bills since Wilson was a rookie in 2012. But that year the game was played in Toronto. Wilson has played every other team on the road at least once in the regular season other than Oakland.
But he did play preseason games against the Raiders in Oakland (though yes, he now will have to check off Las Vegas, as the Raiders are moving there. Seattle, though, won’t play there until the 2026 season.).
Preseason schedule set
The Seahawks also announced their preseason schedule, though for now it’s just the weeks the games will be held, with specific dates later:
Aug. 13-17: vs. Las Vegas.
Aug. 20-20: at Houston.
Aug. 27-30: vs. Los Angeles Chargers.
Sept. 3-4: at Minnesota.
Everything, of course, remains subject to change because of the coronavirus pandemic.
But the NFL has decided for now to remain on course with its offseason planning, and Thursday’s schedule release fell in line with that.