Prognostication is one of the best parts about being a sports fan. You can analyze, predict, adjust and argue non-stop all the way up to the actual game. In the terminally fluid landscape of the offseason NFL, details continue to shift leading up to opening day.
As a Seahawks fan, I am used to getting panned by the press in the draft and virtually no coverage or credit for moves our front office makes. That being the case, I figured doing a pro-Seahawks schedule prediction through the first half of the season would be an interesting endeavor. Below is my game by game analysis of the first half of the season (the hard half) with a summary and prediction that has a 9485358% chance of changing between now and game day. That doesn’t mean it isn’t a fun thought experiment, though.
Week 1 September 9, 2012 Seahawks @ Cardinals
The Seahawks do not have a very good record in recent history when opening on the road and this game is brutal in the desert heat of late summer. While it won’t be much easier inside University of Phoenix Stadium, the Seahawks will show up ready to play. They ended the season being the only team to have 100+ yard rusher against the Niners, and, up to this point, Arizona has not had that great of an offseason (the only major move was drafting Michael Floyd). I see the Seahawks’ faster, younger defense harassing Kolb and winning a close one to open the season, 21-17.
Week 2 September 16, 2012 Seahawks vs. Cowboys
The Seahawks have had bad luck playing in Dallas the last few years, but as everyone remembers, the last time Romo visited the 12th Man, he squashed a hold and got chased down by Babineaux on a play that would have won Big D the game. Dallas has potential to do big things, but the soap opera that is Jerry Jones’ hobby will once again struggle in the hostile environment that is “the Clink.” I predict the Seahawks secondary making life tough for Romo as the noise gets inside his head. That, matched with an inconsistent Dallas running game and Lynch feasting on Skittles, has Seattle starting the season 2-0 in a 28-24 victory.
Week 3 September 24, 2012 Seahawks vs. Packers (Monday Night)
This will be the Seahawks’ first big chance to force some recognition from the rest of the country that they are not to be taken lightly. There is a friendly rivalry between the two franchises, due to shared front office and key player lineage, and everyone remembers Hasselbeck’s ill-fated OT prediction in 2003. That being said, Green Bay, looking to make up for last season’s home playoff loss to the Giants, deals Seattle its first loss of the season on a tight Monday night game in which the Seahawks’ young defense can’t quite keep up with Green Bay’s high-speed, high-efficiency offense. They will have to wait until their second prime time game to beat the visiting Niners on Thursday night in October. (Seahawks lose 30-24.)
Week 4 September 30, 2012 Seahawks vs. Rams
The Rams have been the NFC West’s red-headed stepchild for the last ten years or so, and there isn’t much to make me think that that will be any different this season. The Rams have a solid new head coach in Jeff Fisher, and have made some good moves in the offseason so far. However, with Gregg Williams being banned for life, it leaves the Rams in a bit of a bind. The Seahawks did a terrific job shutting down the Rams offense last season – which was basically Steven Jackson who had 61 combined yards on 11/20, and 123 combined yards and the only Ram TD on 12/13. That was partially due to a decimated Rams receiving corps, however which should be healthier and improved with the addition of Steve Smith. Expect a bit more of a fight from a Rams team that is looking to garner whatever tiny amount of dignity it can, aided by the newly signed Cortland Finnegan, but not being able to overcome a dominant home Seahawks defense. Seattle wins (32-16) and moves to 3-1 on the season.
Week 5 October 7, 2012 Seahawks @ Carolina
The Seahawks haven’t played in Carolina since 2007 where the Hawks lost a close 13-10 game. Of course, everyone also remembers the time before that – the 2006 NCF championship game. Seattle had a top 10 run defense in 2011 and should pose a challenge for Cam Newton. Steve Smith, if he is healthy, is always a threat, too (as well as the only remaining Panther from the 2006 team). It will be fun to see Seattle’s new pass rushers and linebackers take on Cam Newton. In the end, though, I think that the lack of Panther receivers and a stifling run defense gives Seattle the edge in a game that the Seahawks will probably make more difficult than necessary. Seahawks win 27-24.
Week 6 October 14, 2012 Seahawks vs. Patriots
This is the beginning of the end of Seattle’s very hard first half of the schedule and would be a huge win for morale and momentum if the Seahawks are able to steal this one away from the Hoody. It will be interesting to see if Brady is able to command his offense in the noise and could be a huge different. If the Seahawks hang tough and the crowd stays energized, I would lean towards the Seahawks winning. However, gun-to-my head, I have to go with the Patriots. Until the Pats are shown to have reliably exploitable weaknesses, and the refs stop listening to Brady’s whining, they have the edge. The Seahawks suffer their second loss on the season (and at home) to one of the best teams of the last ten years. Seahawks lose 21-17.
Week 7 October 18, 2012 Seahawks @ 49ers
Depending on the outcome of the previous game, the Seahawks will have a short week to either lick their wounds from a second home loss of the season or maintain a high level of energy spawned by defeating a storied dynasty. Either way, going into Candlestick and playing in one of the most underrated current NFL rivalries will have all players on high alert. The Niners will have just played a (hopefully bruising) game against the visiting Giants and will be looking to maintain NFC West dominance.
The Seahawks will be out for some revenge and trying not to repeat their “death by a thousand field goals” like they did against the Niners last season – aided in the first meeting by a David Akers flop. The Niners will essentially be operating under a “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” scheme while the Seahawks will be more experienced and out for blood. What better way to salve a recent wound (if they lose to the Patriots) or keep riding high on momentum (if the Hawks beat the Pats) then by going down to the Bay Area and wishing Harbaugh and company an early Merry Christmas? In a pick where I will acknowledge bias due to my total hatred of the 49ers, Seattle wins a huge knock-down, drag-out fight 23-18.
Week 8 October 28, 2012 Seahawks @ Lions
Matt Flynn threw for six TDs when the Packers played the Lions the finish the 2011 season. Will lightning strike twice? Detroit made their first playoff appearance in forever last season and if Stafford can stay healthy, they are not a team to take lightly and, if firing on all cylinders, can hang with the best of them. I’ve given the Seahawks a win in most of the close games so far (one two which could swing the other way) so I am going to have to say the Seahawks lose to the Lions in Detroit and finish the first half of the season 5-3.
This is a marked improvement over the slow starts from the last two seasons, and if the Seahawks can start out 4-4, they will still be very much in the playoff hunt seeing as the second half of their schedule is much easier with games against Miami, Minnesota and home rematches with the Cardinals and Rams. I think anything less than a 9-7 finish should be considered a disappointment from this season (barring catastrophic injury issues). I am feeling good about the Seahawks’ chances and excited to see the moves Carroll and Schneider make in the draft.