BY Art Thiel 09:22PM 05/07/2020

Thiel: Seahawks get 4 prime games, if NFL plays

Assuming there’s a 2020 season, the Seahawks get five big road trips, four games in the bright lights and three of the lamest December opponents, all in a row.

The Seahawks open at Atlanta Sept. 20.

Unless the pandemic becomes endemic to America, the NFL is insisting on a season in 2020. The Seahawks will get a chubby chunk of its spotlight with four prime-time games, including their home opener Sunday night at the Clink Sept. 20 in against the New England Patriots.

QB Tom Brady must have known what was coming, and left for Tampa Bay. He scared, bro.

The NFL’s annual schedule reveal Thursday, diminished by the national public-health crisis, nevertheless was given a four-hour show on its network, taking advantage of the dearth of sports entertainment to bloat out.

They managed to Zoom up Seahawks coach Pete Carroll at home, where he remarked on the plethora of trips to the Eastern frontier towns of Atlanta, Miami, Buffalo, Philadelphia and Washington.

“You notice on our schedule we’re going across country quite a bit,” he told the network. “We’re gonna pick up some miles. We’re familiar with that. It’s how we do it.”

The Seahawks were a club-record 7-1 on the road last season, including 5-0 on 10 a.m.  PT kickoffs. Seattle has won 16 of its past 22 10 a.m. PT starts.  One myth, cold dead.

The Seahawks open the season on the road in Atlanta Sept. 13, get a bye in week six, and will have an unpleasant stretch in November before, of course, ending the season in Santa Clara Jan. 3.

On Nov. 1, they host the 49ers in the teams’ first meeting, then get two road toughies:  at potentially lake-effect-inclement Buffalo Nov. 8 for the first time since 2008, playing a rising Bills outfit that was a 10-6 playoff team last year, then a trip to Los Angeles Nov. 15 for their first game in the new SoFi Stadium in Inglewood against the Rams. The Seahawks return to host the Arizona Cardinals, who consider the Clink a second home, Nov. 19 in the Thursday night game.

But if you think that’s a tad harsh, consider the Minnesota Vikings. The Sunday night Oct. 11 game marks the third year in a row the Vikings have played in Seattle in a nationally televised night game. The previous two years it was on Monday Night Football.

The Seahawks return from the mini-bye Nov. 30 to play their final prime-time game, in Philadelphia on Monday night. There is a possibility the NFL could flex the Seahawks in December into a fifth prime-time game (the maximum) if the networks see a juicy match-up.

The Seahawks had three road opponents who were booked for international games, Atlanta, Miami and Arizona. But the NFL announced earlier in the week that there will be no international games this year, so the Seahawks’ exotic travel will be confined to the AFC East poles of Miami and Buffalo.

The Seahawks have just six games against teams who reached the 2019 playoffs:  The 49ers twice, and the Pats, Bills, Vikings and Eagles. Based on 2019 records, the Seahawks have a middling strength of schedule, a 129-125-2 cumulative record that ties for 13th.

SUNDAY SEPT. 13 at ATLANTA (10 a.m. FOX)

Rematch at the Benz, where Atlanta (7-9) lost 27-20 a year ago, despite the fact that coach Dan Quinn, former Seahawks defensive coordinator, coaxed 460 passing yards from backup QB Matt Schaub. The game established the profound badness of Seahawks pass defense.

SUNDAY SEPT. 20 vs. NEW ENGLAND (5:20 p.m. NBC)

Second game of the first season in 20 years without Brady, and the Pats’ first visit to Seattle since 2012, when CB Richard Sherman encountered Brady after the 24-23 win and queried to TB12, “You mad, bro?” Brady got happy three years later in The Game That Shall Not Be Recollected. Pats were 12-4 last year but looked bad in playoff ouster.

SUNDAY SEPT. 27 vs. DALLAS (1:20 p.m., FOX).

First meeting since Cowboys ousted Seahawks from the 2018 playoffs. After a playoff-free 8-8 in 2019, the Cowboys fired coach Jason Garrett, hired Mike McCarthy, added Andy Dalton to back up QB Dak Prescott, re-signed WR Amari Cooper and added Gerald McCoy, Dontari Poe, HaHa Clinton-Dix,  Aldon Smith and Greg Zuerlein; drafted WR CeeDee Lamb and CB Trevon Diggs. Jerrah is serious this season.

SUNDAY Oct. 4 at MIAMI (10 a.m., FOX)

The Seahawks take their talents to Miami Beach for the first time since 2012, and may get lucky with the game date, being after Miami’s standard 100-degree/100 percent humidity Septembers. A 5-11 Dolphins team had five picks in the first two rounds,  including QB Tua Tagovailoa.

SUNDAY Oct. 11 vs. MINNESOTA (5:20 p.m., NBC)

Seahawks were up 34-17 in the second half a year ago on MNF when Vikings QB Kirk Cousins struck with two TD passes in the fourth quarter as Minnesota (10-6) caused a massive pucker at the Clink. Seahawks rushed for 218 yards. Those were the days.

Oct. 18 BYE

SUNDAY Oct. 25 at ARIZONA  (1:05, p.m., FOX)

A year ago, Seahawks won by 17 at Arizona and lost by 14 at home, the game in which RBs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise were lost for the season. The Cardinals (5-10-1) were still a crappy team but they manage to find a way to make Seattle miserable. Now they think rookie first-round defensive demon Isaiah Simmons is just the guy to mess up Russell Wilson.

SUNDAY NOV. 1 vs. SAN FRANCISCO (1:25, p.m., FOX)

A year ago, Seahawks won in Santa Clara by three in OT and lost at the Clink by five in two riveting games that revived the rivalry. Niners (13-3) are the NFC champs and resident division bullies. But as long as coach Kyle Shanahan has QB Jimmy Garappolo, there’s always a decent chance to screw it up.

SUNDAY NOV. 8 at BUFFALO  (10 a.m., FOX)

Seattle’s last road game against the Bills was in 2012, but it was played in Toronto, so the first trip to Orchard Park since 2008 will be a delightful tourist adventure for all the Northwest newbies. They game could have been in December, which would have been rated five snowplows. But in early November, we’re talking sleet, ice pellets and freezing rain.

SUNDAY NOV. 15 at LOS ANGELES RAMS (1:25 p.m., FOX)

A year ago, the Seahawks won by one at the Clink and lost at the Coliseum by 16, a brutal game in which Seattle had no offensive touchdowns and looked nothing like a playoff team. But it was the Rams who finished 9-7 and out of the postseason. In the debut season for the Rams’ over-wrought SoFi Stadium, Hollywood has no tolerance for bad second acts.

THURSDAY Nov. 19 vs. ARIZONA (5:20 p.m. FOX)

Arizona has won four of its past five in Seattle, meaning this is the short-notice game where QB Kyler Murray gets 500 yards in total offense, an important Seahawks player gets hurt and Carroll is has no explanation for how this keeps happening.

MONDAY Nov. 30 at PHILDELPHIA (5:15 p.m. ESPN)

Somehow the Seahawks last season twice beat the Eagles (9-7) on the road by the score of 17-9. For all the offensive wizardry of coach Doug Pederson, he has solved the porous Seattle defense for one touchdown, and that was a gimme with two minutes left in a 17-3 game in the regular season. Eagles are the NFL’s worst good team. Why is this on MNF?

SUNDAY DEC. 6 vs. NEW YORK GIANTS (1:05 p.m., FOX)

Even though they made he playoffs as recently as 2016, the Giants (4-12) have somehow become an anonymous New York sports team. They don’t even have Eli Manning, who won two Super Bowls, to kick around anymore. Go ahead, ask yourself: Who is the Giants head coach?

SUNDAY DEC. 13 vs. NEW YORK JETS (1:05 p.m., CBS)

The Jets (7-9) haven’t been to Seattle since 2012, when, in a 28-7 loss, Tim Tebow stepped in for QB Mark Sanchez and completed all three of his passes and ran four times for 14 yards.  But even if they have missed the playoffs nine years in a row, they made ex-Seahawks OT George Fant a rich man (three years, $27 million).

SUNDAY DEC. 20 at WASHINGTON (10 a.m., FOX)

The profoundly dreary Washingtons (3-13) have a new coach, Ron Rivera, and the best defensive player in the draft in Chase Young of Ohio State. But they still have owner Daniel Snyder, the Kramer of sports owners. This game will conclude the worst three-opponent stretch of the Carroll era. How does that happen?

SUNDAY DEC. 27 vs. LOS ANGELES RAMS (1:05, p.m., CBS)

At this point in the season, the Jared Goff experiment should be over, and coach Sean McVay will have installed free agent QB Cam Newton, who will have revivified his career and become the new king of LA sports. Together, they will have pinned he needle on insufferability.

SUNDAY JAN. 3 at SAN FRANCISCO (1:25 p.m., FOX)

Assuming most of us are back at work and some of us are purchasing plane tickets, take a New Year’s weekend in the Bay Area to watch in person the best football game of the season while saying farewell to a year that may go 0h-for-365.

 


YourThoughts

  • Alan Harrison

    In a healthy year, this is the NFL in it’s typical masturbatory glory (and not news at all). This year, it seems particularly absurd. But hey, that’s just what I think.

    • dingle

      Much of what the NFL does is self-gratification. And there are millions of people who are more than willing to lend a hand.

      • Alan Harrison

        That’s nothing short of hilarious!

        • art thiel

          +1

    • art thiel

      From 30,000 feet, yup.

      On the ground, it’s a distraction.

      The key, then, is whether you can move between.

  • dingle

    Oh man, look at those serious barkers in December. Pete just cracked a tooth chewing his gum after seeing that. I mean, you know, if they actually play.

    • art thiel

      Glad you’re holding the bleach.

      • dingle

        Then it would be a MAGArita.

        • art thiel

          +1

    • Lodowick

      Yup. If they play. And if there are no 12’s in the house the Dallas, Minnesota and S.F. games will be challenging. Let’s see…tonight’s quarantini? Golden Sapphire (Bombay and Gran Marnier), with a toast to Emerald City weather on Whidbey.

      • art thiel

        I guess my invitation was lost in the email. Write earlier next time.

  • jafabian

    Predicting a 10-6 record for the Hawks assuming Clowney is elsewhere. IMO the NFL should consider moving the season two months back. Extend the season into the dates the XFL used to have in late winter/early spring.

    • art thiel

      The extension as you described is an option on the table: Play any games postponed in September in January, push back the SB to late Feb.

  • Stephen Pitell

    Why doesn’t anyone address the elephant in the room? Art, you have done what almost every journalist has done when reporting on the coming NFL season, you have given the possibility of Covid-19 eliminating the 2020 season a single sentence as a qualifier to everything that comes after, never giving a rational explanation of HOW there is even a slight chance that there is a 2020 season at all.

    The science suggests that there is a near zero chance that if the season progresses as far as the actual season games, that outbreaks of Covid-19 will shut it down within three weeks. How many positive tests (which in the case of Covid-19 means that there are almost certainly many others already infected) will there be before the season is put on indefinite hold? What will it take to shut the season down? The first positive? The first death? Entire teams unable to play due to too many who are sick to field a competitive team? These are the questions which sports reporters such as yourself ought to be discussing. Instead you ignore that elephant and fantasize about a season that will almost certainly fail to finish.

    My bet would be placed on the season ending during the practices phase of this season. Outbreaks in more than one team will likely end all practices and any games at all.

    • art thiel

      Stephen, if you have followed my columns earlier, you would have read about my skepticism about plans to start, or re-start, sports seasons. I touched on the very questions you asked. I’m among he relative few sports journalists who’ve said the risks likely will be too high, especially since no federal plan is in place.

      In this column, I mentioned it in the headline and the first sentence. But you’re right, I didn’t repeat myself in the column. Sorry you missed. I commented on the news of the day, which was the release of the NFL schedule. I think nearly all of my readers are smart enough to understand we’re in a public health crisis of profound magnitude and unknown duration and outcome. That doesn’t mean they are not going to be interested in the schedule, however unlikely it will go as planned. If I wring my hands every column as you prefer, it’s going to become a tad repeitive.

  • Chris Alexander

    I won’t be surprised if the NFL “flips” the schedule and starts the season in November with the Week 9 games. If so, a schedule that currently looks pretty decent for the Seahawks could turn brutal quickly with the first 4 games being AT Buffalo, AT the Rams, home against Arizona, AT Philadelphia.

    The one UPSIDE of that happening is that the last game of the season would still be against San Francisco … except it would be in Seattle instead of Santa Clara.

    Should be interesting.

    I completely understand why the NFL is proceeding as if the season will start on time. But, like many others, I’m not holding my breath about it actually happening. I do think there will be a season, but I’m not convinced it will start on time.

    • art thiel

      Yes, the NFL has worked out a plan, if necessary, to play games postponed in September in January. Playoffs and SB can be shoved into late Feb.

  • Seattle Lifer

    OK, I am just curious; do paychecks stop if the season is put on hold after week one (whenever that is) if dozens of players fall ill? How many players have a pandemic clause in their contract?

  • DB

    I be scared too, bro! No ball in the fall and I be trippin! It’s all about that action!

    Terrific season preview, Art. Loved it. Thanks.

    I wonder what the Vegas odds are for the season starting on time…?