RENTON — When NFL schedules were released in May, the quartet of games that begins Sunday for the Seahawks loomed large.
Sunday’s contest at Minnesota, which kicks off at 1:25 p.m., is the first of three over the next four weeks on the road against teams with legitimate playoff aspirations, sandwiching a game against the dreaded Los Angeles Rams.
After the trip to Minnesota comes a visit to the 49ers next Sunday. After a quick turnaround for a Thursday night home game Oct. 7 against the Rams, the Seahawks head to Pittsburgh in what is technically the game added once the NFL expanded its regular season to 17 games.
Which is why what happened last Sunday — blowing a 14-point fourth-quarter lead at home against Tennessee to stunningly lose 33-30 in overtime — could hang over the Seahawks.
At 2-0, the Seahawks would at least have a cushion heading into this stretch.
But at 1-1, the Seahawks would have to win at least two of the three road games to have a winning record in mid-October.
And true, the Seahawks are 8-1 on the road since the beginning of last season. But did they really want to have to count on their road prowess this early?
Making things that much dicier, the rest of the NFC West is 2-0. Arizona is a 7.5-point favorite at home against Jacksonville while the Rams (Tampa Bay) and 49ers (Green Bay) are at home.
Tough games, no doubt.
The wrong combination of results for the Seahawks this weekend and, to paraphrase Yogi Berra, it could get late in a hurry.
Once the Seahawks gets back from Pittsburgh, they will play a road game only once until Nov. 29. There will be time to make up ground.
Still, coach Pete Carroll would rather not take any chances.
“This is a really crucial week for us to get back on track and bounce back,’’ Carroll said.
The good news is the Seahawks have one of the best players in NFL history on their side in avoiding losing streaks of even two games — quarterback Russell Wilson.
The Seahawks are 34-9 when following a loss in Wilson’s career, 79.1%, the best record by a quarterback in games following a loss since the merger in 1970.
That includes a 3-1 mark last year, when the Seahawks lost two games in a row only once in going 12-4.
Carroll also cited the presence of Bobby Wagner for that streak.
“Those guys have been there all of that time,’’ Carroll said last week. “They have been the leaders and focal point guys. They have been the consistent thread that has run all throughout it. We have a way and they fortify the message, but it’s their leadership that I feel is why we have been fortunate to have those guys.”
More tangibly Sunday, what the Seahawks need to do is not let running back Dalvin Cook run over them — he’s listed as questionable with an ankle injury but expected to play. He rushed for 192 yards in the first two games of the season, fourth-most in the NFL.
The Seahawks did a good job on Derrick Henry last week until he ripped off a 60-yard run in the fourth quarter that turned the game around.
No lapses will be allowed this week with the Vikings playing their first home game with fans in attendance since 2019, and at 0-2, feeling a sense of urgency.
And they need to limit Kirk Cousins gaining yards — he’s for sure going to get those — but not touchdowns.
What they’ll also need to do is feast on a Vikings defense that ranks 28th in yards allowed through two games and has been equally forgiving through the air (26th against the pass at 294 per game) and the run (21st at 126).
Don’t be surprised to see the Seahawks rely on the running game more this week after they let the lead slip away against Tennessee while gaining just 77 yards on 18 carries.
Especially against a good offense on the road, Carroll will no doubt aim to limit possessions.
“I would like us to be able to run the ball better in the fourth quarter,’’ Carroll said. “I wish that was happening when we get ahead. It would be nice to be able to do that. That’s always been the way we liked to finish games, so I’m hoping that we will continue to develop so that when we need it, we can go to it. That’s why balance is so important.”
And try to at least stay with the pack in the NFC West.