Seeing as the world (and especially the United States) is living in a time when even day to day life is truly uncertain thanks to the Coronavirus, it does seem remarkably ambitious that the NFL went ahead and released the exact dates and times for all 256 regular season games for the 2020 NFL season this month. However, sports have always been a welcome distraction from this tumultuous world, and this has become greatly emphasized thanks to the current calamity our world faces. Let’s go ahead and take a look at how the season schedule shakes out for the Seattle Seahawks, a game by game prediction for the season, and what opposing players could hold the key to each matchup.
Week 1 – Seattle at Atlanta Falcons
Opposing Player to Watch: Todd Gurley
As a member of the Los Angeles (and formerly St. Louis) Rams for five seasons and season and a half, respectively. After being thoroughly dominant in the 2017 and 2018 seasons, Gurley began to suffer from severe arthritis in his knees and began to lose effectiveness. Gurley returns to the state where he played his college football and with Devonta Freeman’s release, he looks to receive the lion’s share of the backfield touches in Atlanta. Seattle knows better than any other team in the league what a healthy Gurley can do, and it remains to be seen if he can rediscover his previous form.
Prediction: Loss, 34-29
Week 2 – Seattle vs. New England Patriots (Sunday Night Football)
Opposing Player to Watch: Jarrett Stidham
It’s no stretch to suggest that Stidham has the largest shoes to fill of any player in NFL history, seeing as he’s taking over for the greatest player in NFL history in Tom Brady and will be at the helm of a team that has had historical success. While it’s no guarantee that he’ll be the starter, it certainly seems that way as the Patriots neglected to draft or sign a quarterback, leaving just Stidham and Brian Hoyer as their options. If Seattle can put enough pressure on Stidham to push him to make poor decisions, this game shouldn’t be too close despite the Patriots lethal defense.
Prediction: Win, 19-10
Week 3 – Seattle vs. Dallas Cowboys
Opposing Player to Watch: CeeDee Lamb
The NFL Draft always features players who slip from their projected draft range and end up in ideal scenarios – this time, Lamb ended up slipping past the Jets, Raiders, 49ers, and Broncos (the Raiders and Broncos drafted other wide receivers in Henry Ruggs III and Jerry Jeudy at picks #12 & #15 in the first round, respectively). Lamb will pair with the one of the NFL’s newest $100 million dollar man in Amari Cooper and the on-the-rise Michael Gallup (with a 1,000 yards and six touchdowns to his credit last year) to form one of the most lethal receiving trios in the NFL. If Seattle insists on playing base defense with their three linebackers, they could have a hard time keeping up with Dallas’ offense.
Prediction: Loss, 33-30
Week 4 – Seattle at Miami Dolphins
Opposing Player to Watch: Tua Tagovailoa
The Dolphins have been searching for competent quarterback play for the better part of this millennium, and while Ryan Tannehill certainly showed flashes, Tagovailoa is the most hyped Dolphins quarterback since Dan Marino. Electric at Alabama, his hip injury is certainly a massive concern (though he says he’s fully recovered). If healthy, there’s no reason to think that Tagovailoa won’t be starting by this point in the season. If Seattle can limit Tagovailoa’s mobility and generate enough pressure on him, they should come out on top over a Dolphins team that has talent but isn’t playoff caliber yet.
Prediction: Win, 30-17
Week 5 – Seattle vs. Minnesota Vikings (Sunday Night Football)
Opposing Player to Watch: Justin Jefferson
The Vikings have certainly taken over the Carolina Panthers’ role as honorary division opponents, as Seattle seemingly plays them every season (and in primetime no less). This is once again true, as Seattle gets Minnesota at home just before their bye week. After trading away Stefon Diggs (who Seattle will face in just three weeks), the Vikings drafted Justin Jefferson in the first round as his replacement. Though Jefferson may fit better in the slot than outside, if he can replicate at least some of Diggs’ production (and second year tight end Irv Smith Jr. can take a big step forward) Minnesota could put up a good fight. Ultimately, though, at home in primetime is where Seattle and Wilson shine, and I foresee that happening once gain.
Prediction: Win, 24-20
Week 6 – *Bye Week*
Week 7 – Seattle at Arizona Cardinals
Opposing Player to Watch: Kyler Murray
Though Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson are the favorites to win NFL MVP this season (and rightly so), I truly believe that Murray has a chance to take home the coveted trophy. In his second year in Kliff Kingsbury’s offense, Murray should be even more comfortable, and with his brand-new weapon (see the Week 11 writeup) he should put up impressive passing numbers. His rushing numbers should once again be around 500 yards and five touchdowns, and if he makes the progress I expect him to, it wouldn’t surprise me to see Arizona as a wild-card team this season. Regardless of their postseason aspirations, Arizona is always a tough matchup for Seattle (especially in Arizona), and will only be tougher this season.
Prediction: Loss, 24-14
Week 8 – Seattle vs. San. Francisco 49ers
Opposing Player to Watch: Javon Kinlaw
It’s no secret that the driving force behind San Francisco’s march to Super Bowl 54 was their defensive line, as the formidable foursome of Arik Armstead, DeForest Buckner, Nick Bosa, and Dee Ford wreaked havoc on opposing offensive lineman. After shipping Buckner off to the Indianapolis Colts for the #13 overall pick, the 49ers then used that pick on his apparent replacement in defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw out of South Carolina. Though his consistency was lacking at times, Kinlaw was downright dominant at times and it will be interesting to see how steep the drop off will be from the All-Pro to the rookie. With Seattle’s guard positions having a wealth of options but little certainty, Kinlaw’s contributions could go a long way towards determining the outcome of this game.
Prediction: Win, 23-17
Week 9 – Seattle at Buffalo Bills
Opposing Player to Watch: Stefon Diggs
After doing an impressive job with John Brown as his primary wide receiver last year (along with getting great production out of Cole Beasley), the Bills decided to give Josh Allen a bonafide number one wideout. Seeing as Allen’s accuracy is inconsistent (at best) and Diggs has a history of discontent (along with the fact that the Bills gave up a haul for him), it will be interesting to see how well Diggs can assimilate into Buffalo’s offense. If Seattle is able to contain Diggs and force the Bills to rely almost exclusively on their run game, this could be one of Seattle’s best wins of the season.
Prediction: Win, 16-9
Week 10 – Seattle at Los Angeles Rams
Opposing Player to Watch: Cam Akers
With the loss of Todd Gurley, Los Angeles’ backfield will look drastically different (much to Seattle’s delight). Though the Rams also have Darrell Henderson and Malcom Brown, Akers, a rookie out of Florida State, should have assumed the starting role by this point in the season. He was somebody I thought the Seahawks might draft and is an extremely talented back who suffered from an anemic offensive line in college. The Rams will certainly live and die through Jared Goff’s arm, but Akers will certainly take a load off and could be a handful for Seattle’s defense.
Prediction: Loss, 31-23
Week 11 – Seattle vs. Arizona Cardinals (Thursday Night Football)
Opposing Player to Watch: DeAndre Hopkins
The Cardinals were the primary beneficiaries of Bill O’Brien’s ineptitude, as they were able to acquire one of the top wide receivers in the league in Hopkins while simultaneously dumping David Johnson’s bloated contract for little more than a second-round pick. Hopkins joins the ageless Larry Fitzgerald, the rising Christian Kirk, and the rejuvenated Kenyan Drake to give Kyler Murray a solid core of weapons. Coming off a short week, Seattle will certainly have their work cut out for them. However, after playing Kingsbury’s crew once before and losing to them, Seattle will have a better idea of what adjustments to make, and this feels like a game in which Shaquill Griffin will make his case as strong as every for a contract extension by limiting Hopkins.
Prediction: Win, 24-16
Week 12 – Seattle at Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night Football)
Opposing Player to Watch: Jalen Reagor
Russell Wilson truly does love playing the Eagles, as he’s led Seattle to victory all five times he’s played them (including twice in Philadelphia last season; once in the regular season and once in the playoffs). Carson Wentz has earned (a somewhat unfair) reputation for being injury-prone, but the Eagles truly were beset by injuries to their wide receiver core last season. With a healthy Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson along with Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, Reagor will add to a dynamic group of pass catchers. Absolutely electric at TCU and is a threat to score anytime the ball is in his hands. He will certainly have his share of explosive plays, and Seattle will have to score plenty of points to come out on top in this game.
Prediction: Win, 34-27
Week 13 – Seattle vs. New York Giants
Opposing Player to Watch: Saquon Barkley
This matchup kicks off a very generous three game stretch in which Seattle faces three of the worst teams in the NFL, with two of them coming at home. The Giants project to be a team that struggles this season, though with Daniel Jones, Darius Slayton, and Saquon Barkley they certainly do have a promising offensive trio. One of the best running backs in the NFL, Barkley has the ability to mesmerize on the ground and is a great pass catcher as well IF Seattle can contain Barkley and force Jones to win the game, this game shouldn’t be close.
Prediction: Win, 26-10
Week 14 – Seattle vs. New York Jets
Opposing Player to Watch: Denzel Mims
It wouldn’t surprise anybody if the Jets were one of the worst teams in the NFL this season, as to have any sort of success this season would require a massive leap from Sam Darnold and for the rest of his offensive cast to take massive strides forward. In addition to signing former Seahawks tackle George Fant in free agency and drafting Mekhi Becton in the first round, the Jets drafted wide receiver Denzel Mims out of Baylor. Expected to go in the first round, Mims slipped to near the end of the second round despite his fantastic 40-yard dash (4.38 seconds) and impressive build (around 6’3” and 207 lbs.). A physical specimen at wide receiver slipping to the end of the second round? This could very well be a description of D.K. Metcalf, and if Mims can have a similar type of impact (for a Jets team that also lost Robby Anderson in free agency this past season), he should elevate this offense’s ceiling.
Prediction: Win, 38-21
Week 15 – Seattle at Washington Redskins
Opposing Player to Watch: Dwayne Haskins
The last game of Seattle’s easiest three game stretch on the season, this game scares me for a couple reasons. In addition to the absolute abomination that the Redskins insist is a palatable excuse for a field (I believe that this field is solely responsible for the downfall of Robert Griffin III, but I digress), the Redskins defense has the potential to be extremely good. Between second overall pick Chase Young, former first round picks in Jonathan Allen and Da’Ron Payne, pass rusher Montez Sweat, and the consistent Ryan Kerrigan, Washington has the makings of a ferocious front seven. However, the fate of this team will be determined by second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins. With limited weapons (Terry McLaurin is the only semi-recognizable name other than the aging Adrian Peterson), Haskins certainly has his work cut out for him. Though he showed some promising traits, he through just seven touchdowns against seven interceptions in his seven starts last season. It also doesn’t help that Seattle has two crucial division games in the following two weeks, which could very well be the two games that directly impact their playoff chances and subsequent seeding. Seattle may have trouble in this game if they can’t protect Russell Wilson sufficiently, but the ineptitude of the Redskins offense will give Seattle an uncomfortable victory.
Prediction: Win, 17-16
Week 16 – Seattle vs. Los Angeles Rams
Opposing Player to Watch: Leonard Floyd
I could have easily picked rookie wide receiver Van Jefferson or receiver Josh Reynolds (or even of the Ram’s tight ends in Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett), as the Rams look to replace not only Gurley’s production but that of Brandin Cooks, who they traded to the Houston Texans. However, I’m most interested in the turnover on the defensive side of the ball – namely, the free agent signings of Floyd to replace the production of Dante Fowler Jr. This is certainly a downgrade from a talent standpoint, as Floyd has the first-round pedigree but hasn’t demonstrated first-round production as of yet. However, Sean McVay and the Rams always have Seattle’s number, and with such a large game looming the next week it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Seattle drop this one.
Prediction: Loss, 21-13
Week 17 – Seattle at San Francisco 49ers
Opposing Player to Watch: Jimmy Garoppolo
Seattle hasn’t been the 49ers twice in the same season since 2017, but this is the season where Seattle finally gets the job done. There’s a great chance that this game, much like the Week 17 matchup between these two teams last year (if only Jacob Hollister was an inch taller) is for the NFC West Division title – it wouldn’t surprise me if the Seahawks, 49ers, and Cardinals all took playoff spots this year as the NFC West takes full advantage of the extra playoff spot. As good as the 49ers defense should remain, Garoppolo will have to play well enough to beat Seattle in this showdown, but Seattle will do enough to come out on top.
Prediction: Win, 26-23
Final Record: 11-5
Top Photo: John Froschauer/Associated Press