The schedule highlight: Nov. 13 at the Patriots, a Sunday night rematch of the epic Super Bowl warriors. The Seahawks also realistically have a clean path to a 3-0 start.
For the second consecutive season, the Seahawks will play a franchise-record-tying five prime-time games in 2016 (three at CenturyLink Field): Three Sunday night games (at Arizona, Carolina, at Green Bay), a Monday night contest (home vs. Buffalo) and a Thursday night game (home vs. Los Angeles Rams). It all starts Sept. 11, when Seattle, in a non-prime affair, hosts the Miami Dolphins in what should be (see below) a gimme win.
The Seahawks, 15-3 in prime time under coach Pete Carroll, have won 10 consecutive Monday night games, second-longest streak in the game’s history.
After finishing 10-6 last year and losing to the Carolina Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs, the Seahawks play in Los Angeles in Week 2 against the Rams — the home opener for a franchise gone 22 years from the Southland.
The draw of Carroll in his first return after a triumphal era at USC figures to be immense. The Rams won both games a year ago while in St. Louis. That will mark Seattle’s first game at the Coliseum since 1994.
If the Seahawks beat the Rams, who own the No. 1 pick in the draft after a blockbuster trade with Tennessee Thursday, as well rebuilding San Francisco the following week, a 3-0 start is a reasonable projection for the first time since 2013, the year they won the Super Bowl. Last year, Seattle opened with two on the road, at St. Louis and Green Bay, losing both.
The Seahawks have an easier schedule than last year. They have five games against 2015 playoff teams (seven last year) and play 10 that finished .500 or below. Seattle also has consecutive road games once, when it plays at Arizona and at New Orleans, Oct. 30 and Nov. 7.
The toughest stretch is Nov. 27 through Dec. 11, when the Seahawks play at Tampa Bay, at home against Carolina Dec. 4 and on the road at Green Bay Dec. 11 — nobody wants to play at Lambeau in December.
The highlight is Nov. 13, when the Seahawks travel to New England to face the Patriots Sunday night in a rematch of Super Bowl XVIX. That will mark the second of two games in which Carroll will face a team that once employed him as a head coach. Carroll coached the Patriots from 1997-99. He also served as head coach of the New York Jets in 1994, the team Seattle will face in Week 4.
The Seattle-New England pairing will feature a brother act, Seattle’s Michael Bennett vs. brother Martellus, a tight end signed by the Patriots in free agency from Chicago.
With the Rams acquiring the No. 1 overall pick Thursday and the 49ers poised to take a quarterback with their first pick in the draft, the Seahawks are likely to face two rookie signal callers. But they will also face six quarterbacks with Pro Bowl experience: Tom Brady, Cam Newton, Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Jameis Winston.
The Seahawks have a bye in Week 5. Last year, it was Week 9.
|1||8/13||Sat||at Kansas City||1:30 p.m.||Q13||L 24-20 / Nov. 16 2014|
|2||8/18||Thr||vs. Minnesota||7 p.m.||Q13||W 10-9 / Jan. 10, 2016|
|3||8/25||Thr||vs. Dallas||7 p.m.||Q13||W 13-12 / Nov. 13, 2015|
|4||9/1||Thr||at Oakland||TBD||Q13||W 30-24 / Nov. 2, 2014|
|1||9/11||Sun||vs. Miami||1:05 p.m.||CBS||L 24-21 / Nov. 25, 2012|
|2||9/18||Sun||at LA||1:05 p.m.||FOX||L 23-17 / Dec. 27, 2015|
|3||9/25||Sun||vs. SF||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W 29-13 / Nov. 22, 2015|
|4||10/2||Sun||at NYJ||10:05 a.m.||FOX||W 28-7 / Nov. 11, 2012|
|6||10/16||Sun||vs. Atl*||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W 33-10 / Nov. 10, 2013|
|7||10/23||Sun||at AZ*||5:30 p.m.||NBC||W 36-6 / Jan. 3, 2016|
|8||10/30||Sun||at NO*||10 a.m.||FOX||W 23-15 / Jan. 11, 2014|
|9||11/7||Mon||vs. Buff||5:30 p.m.||ESPN||W 50-17 / Dec. 16, 2012|
|10||11/13||Sun||at NE*||5:30 p.m.||NBC||L 28-24 / Feb. 1, 2015|
|11||11/20||Sun||vs. Phil*||1:25 p.m.||CBS||W 24-14 / Dec. 7, 2014|
|12||11/27||Sun||at TB*||1:05 p.m.||FOX||W 27-24 / Nov. 3, 2013|
|13||12/4||Sun||vs. Car*||5:30 p.m.||NBC||L 31-24 / Jan. 17, 2016|
|14||12/11||Sun||at GB*||1:25 p.m.||FOX||L 27-17 / Sept. 29, 2015|
|15||12/15||Thr||vs. LA||5:25 p.m.||NBC||L 23-17 / Dec. 27, 2015|
|16||12/24||Sun||vs. AZ||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W 36-6 / Jan. 3, 2016|
|17||1/1||Sun||at SF*||1:25 p.m.||FOX||W 29-13 / Nov. 22, 2015|
*=Game subject to NFL flexible scheduling
Vs. 2016 OPPONENTS LAST YEAR (3-6): Seahawks 2-0 vs. San Francisco, 1-1 vs. Arizona, 0-1 vs. Green Bay, 0-2 vs. Los Angeles, 0-2 (regular season and playoffs) against Carolina.
Vs. 2015 PLAYOFF TEAMS (5 games): Carolina (15-1-0), Arizona (13-3-0, twice), New England (12-4-0), Green Bay (10-6-0).
Vs. +.500 TEAMS (6 games): Carolina (15-1-0), Arizona (13-3-0, twice), New England (12-4-0), Green Bay (10-6-0), New York Jets (10-6-0).
Vs. .500/SUB.-500 TEAMS (10 games): Atlanta (8-8-0), Buffalo (8-8-0), Philadelphia (7-9-0), New Orleans (7-9-0), Los Angeles (7-9, twice), Miami (6-10-0), Tampa Bay (6-10), San Francisco (5-11-0, twice).
PRIME TIME GAMES (5): at Arizona (Sunday, Oct. 23); vs. Buffalo (Monday, Nov. 7); at New England (Sunday, Nov. 13); vs. Carolina (Sunday, Dec. 4), vs. Los Angeles (Thursday, Dec. 15).
MIAMI (week 1): The Seahawks haven’t seen the Dolphins since 2012, when Miami recorded a 24-21 victory at Sun Life Stadium despite two TD passes by Russell Wilson and a 98-yard kickoff return by RB Leon Washington. The teams last played in Seattle Nov. 21, 2004. QB Trent Dilfer and WR Jerry Rice sparked a 24-21 Seahawks victory by hooking up on a 21-yard scoring play. The Dolphins went 6-10 last year and then made a foolish move in free agency and overpaid CB Byron Maxwell, the former Seahawk. That wasn’t all. The Dolphins gave up their best defensive end, 25-year-old Olivier Vernon, for 31-year-old Mario Williams, who admitted he loafed through Buffalo’s 2015 season. This one looks like an easy Seattle win.
LOS ANGELES (weeks 2 and 15): The Seahawks dropped a pair to the 7-9 Rams in 2015, falling 34-31 in OT in the season opener under the Arch and 23-17 at the Clink in Week 16. As they traditionally do, the Aaron Donald-led Rams feasted on Wilson on both occasions, sacking him a combined 10 times. The Rams used different quarterbacks, Nick Foles in the opener and Case Keenum in the rematch. It’s likely the Seahawks face a rookie, either Cal’s Jared Goff or North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz, now that LA has acquired the No. 1 overall pick in the April 28-30 draft. The silver lining in the relocation is the Seahawks have one fewer 10 a.m. kickoff each year.
SAN FRANCISCO (weeks 3 and 17): The Seahawks capitalized on the dysfunctional mess in the Bay Area last year by sweeping the 49ers, 20-3 in Week 7 and 29-13 in Week 11. Seattle sacked QB Colin Kaepernick six times in the first meeting and didn’t have much trouble with Blaine Gabbert in the second. The Seattle-San Francisco storyline will revolve around the renewal of the Pete Carroll-Chip Kelly rivalry, which dates to Carroll’s time at USC and Kelly’s at Oregon. With Kelly attempting to trade Kaepernick and draft a quarterback, the Seahawks will either see Gabbert or a rookie. Seattle has five consecutive wins over the Niners, their last loss coming Dec. 8, 2013 (19-17).
NEW YORK JETS (week 4): The Seahawks won the past two against the Jets, both in Seattle, but haven’t beat them in New York since a 17-10 win in 1983, when the Seahawks featured Steve Largent and Curt Warner and the Jets countered with Richard Todd and Freeman McNeil. The Jets went 10-6 last year but missed the playoffs, then saw all kinds of defections in free agency, notably NT Damon Harrison and RB Chris Ivory, the latter replaced by signing Matt Forte from Chicago. The Jets feature two prominent ex-Seahawks, RT Breno Giacomini and LG James Carpenter, both of whom started for Seattle in Super Bowl XVIII.
ATLANTA (week 6): Carroll will coach his first game against his former defensive coordinator, Dan Quinn, who took over last year. Quinn and the 2015 Falcons got off to starts of 5-0 and 6-1 starts, but faded and missed the playoffs at 8-8. Atlanta added six players in free agency, headed by veteran OL Alex Mack and WR Mohamed Sanu. The Seahawks have lost four of their past five meetings with Atlanta, but won the last one, 33-10 in the Georgia Dome Nov. 13, 2013 as Wilson threw two TDs and Marshawn Lynch ran for 145 yards.
ARIZONA (weeks 7 & 16): The teams split last year, Arizona winning in Seattle 39-32 as Carson Palmer threw for 363 yards and three TDs, and Seattle romping in the desert 36-6 as Wilson tossed three TDs. The Cardinals were 13-3, will try to defend their NFC West title, and have added a significant player in pass-rushing ogre DE Chandler Jones, obtained in a trade with New England. The Cardinals were relatively quiet in free agency, although they added quality in OG Evan Mathis and FS Tyvon Branch, both of whom should start.
NEW ORLEANS (week 8): The Seahawks have had their way with the Saints in recent years, winning three in a row during the Carroll era. However, the last time Seattle visited the Big Easy (Nov. 21, 2010), Drew Brees put it all over Seattle, throwing for 382 yards and four touchdowns in 34-19 win. Provided he’s healthy, this game will mark TE Jimmy Graham’s first crack against his former team, which had a nice haul in free agency, hiring Coby Fleener to fill the tight end void left by Ben Watson and adding LB James Laurinaitis, a tackling machine from the Rams.
BUFFALO (week 9): The Seahawks haven’t hosted to the Bills since Nov. 28, 2004, when RB Willis McGahee tallied four touchdowns in Buffalo’s 38-9 romp. Seattle and Buffalo have met only once in the Carroll era, Dec. 16, 2012 in Toronto. In a 50-17 Seattle win, Wilson accounted for four touchdowns, three rushing. The Bills were hit hard during free agency, losing a number of notables on defense. After going 8-8 last year, they won’t be expected to contend against the Patriots and Jets in the AFC East.
NEW ENGLAND (week 10): What will the Seahawks do, even without Lynch, if they get the ball on the New England one-yard line? This Super Bowl XVIX rematch will mark Seattle’s first visit to Gillette Stadium since Oct. 17, 2004, when Seattle lost 30-20. The Seahawks seek their first win at New England since 1993, when Rick Mirer out-dueled Drew Bledsoe. Stat to note: Tom Brady is 97-16 at Gillette Stadium. The Patriots lost eight players from last year’s team via free agency or trade, and added eight. Their most notable departure: Jones, shipped to Arizona. The Patriots also signed DL Chris Long, who gave the Seahawks fits twice a year when he played for the Rams.
PHILADELPHIA (week 11): The Seahawks welcome the Eagles to the Clink for the first time since Dec. 11, 2011, when Seattle rolled 31-14 behind Lynch, who rushed for 148 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Seattle also won in Philly 24-14 in 2014 as Wilson threw two TD passes and ran for a third score. The Eagles spent much of the offseason attempting to rid themselves of Chip Kelly players. They allowed five free agents to depart, notably TE Riley Cooper. New coach Doug Pederson faces a significant rebuilding job.
TAMPA BAY (week 12): The Seahawks get their first look at the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, QB Jameis Winston, who threw for 4,402 yards and 22 TDs with an 84.2 passer rating as a rookie. The Seahawks have dropped three of the past four against the Buccaneers and needed to rally from a 24-7 third-quarter deficit at the Clink to win the last matchup, 27-24 in overtime Nov. 3, 2013. The Bucs feature one of the best running backs in the NFL in Doug Martin, who will have former Seahawk starter OG J.R. Sweezy blocking for him.
CAROLINA (Week 13): Until Kelly proves otherwise, the Panthers have displaced San Francisco as Seattle’s primary rival. Carolina rallied in the fourth quarter and beat the Seahawks 27-23 in Week 6 when Newton threw a 26-yard TD to TE Greg Olsen, wide open in the end zone between Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman due to busted coverage. In the divisional playoffs, the Panthers raced to a 31-0 lead and weathered a 24-point second-half Seattle rally to eliminate the Seahawks 31-24, ending hopes of a third Super Bowl appearance in a row.
GREEN BAY (week 14): A week after losing the season opener to the Rams in OT last year, the Seahawks went to Lambeau Field for a rematch of the 2014 NFC Championship. Everything looked good entering the fourth quarter with a 17-16 lead. But Rodgers, exploiting the absence of contract holdout SS Kam Chancellor, orchestrated an 80-yard scoring drive, Mason Crosby kicked his fourth field goal, the Packers intercepted Wilson late to 27-17 — the first 0-2 start since 2011. Green Bay finished 10-6 and lost to Arizona in the divisional playoffs. The Seahawks haven’t won at Lambeau since 1999, but will be facing a defense that suffered three significant losses in free agency. The defections of DLs Mike Neal and B.J. Raji depleted the line and CB Casey Hayward left for San Diego.