A Closer Look at the 2011 Schedule


Having had some time to process everything, let’s take a look at this year’s schedule game by game:
Week 1 – @ San Francisco
This is a must-win game for the Seahawks for several reasons. It’s the season opener, it’s against a division opponent, and it projects to be one of the more winnable games before the bye. Emotions will be high for the 49ers. It will be Jim Harbaugh’s first game as head coach, and he’ll try to use this game as a springboard towards winning the NFC West just like Pete Carroll did the year before. The Seahawks must be prepared. They’ll no longer benefit from the coaching blunders of Mike Singletary.
Week 2 – @ Pittsburgh
It seems like the Seahawks have been a horrible road team forever. The schedulers did them no favors by slating their first two games on the road, including this game against the defending AFC Champions. Hopefully, the Steelers will suffer the letdown that most Super Bowl losers have experienced in recent seasons. That’s the straw I’m grasping.
Week 3 – Arizona
The home opener couldn’t come at a better time, and it couldn’t come against a better opponent. If the Seahawks win in Week 1, a victory here would give the team tremendous confidence as well as a second victory in the division. It would form a solid foundation for a playoff run. Anything less than a 2-1 record after this game would not bode well for the remainder of the season.
Week 4 – Atlanta
This is a winnable game. The Seahawks played the Falcons tough last season until silly mistakes and Matt Hasselbeck’s third quarter meltdown turned the game into a blowout. It won’t be easy against the team that had the best record in the NFC last season. This will be the third game on the road out of four for Atlanta, which may very well be looking ahead to a rematch against the Green Bay Packers at home the next week.
Week 5 – @ New York Giants
Another slap in the face from the schedulers. The Giants have started out fast the last couple of seasons, and their schedule seems to indicate another fast start is imminent. The Giants humiliated the Seahawks in Qwest Field last season. Not much reason for optimism in this one.
Week 6 – BYE
The schedulers did place the bye week in the perfect spot for the Seahawks. It will give the team an opportunity to regroup and prepare for the seemingly easiest part of the schedule. If the team is 2-3 (with both victories within the division), their postseason prospects will be very much alive. Anything less, and Andrew Luck will become the most talked about person in the state of Washington.
Week 7 – @ Cleveland
Week 8 – Cincinnati
If the Seahawks are to have a successful season, they have to win these two games, which appears to be the softest part of the schedule. They play in Cleveland after their bye week, and the team played perhaps their best regular season game last year after their bye in Chicago. Cincinnati will be coming off their bye week when they come to Qwest Field, so they’ll have two weeks to prepare for the Seahawks. It takes place at the end of October, yet will only be the third home game for the Seahawks.
Week 9 – @ Dallas
Week 10 – Baltimore
Week 11 – @ St. Louis
Another brutal stretch, though not as long as the earlier one. The Seahawks must win at least one of these games. They haven’t played well in Dallas, but who knows what kind of Cowboys team they’ll face? Dallas has the potential to be a Super Bowl contender, but they also have the potential to fall flat on their faces like they did most of last season.
The Ravens will come to Seattle off what will be an intense, physical struggle the week before against their arch-rival Pittsburgh. A letdown is certainly possible, and the Seahawks may very well be in a must-win situation.
The Seahawks face the Rams in what will most likely be a make or break part of the season for St. Louis. Seattle will be the third game in a stretch where five of six games for the Rams are against divisional opponents. A win here by the Seahawks could be devastating to the Rams.
A 5-5 record at this point would still keep Seattle in playoff contention.
Week 12 – Washington
Week 13 – Philadelphia
Week 14 – St. Louis
If the Seahawks are still in playoff contention, this part of the season really gives the team a chance to build some major momentum with three consecutive home games. The game against Philadelphia is on a Thursday night, which gives both teams only three days to prepare. The game against the Rams is on Monday Night Football. The Seahawks will have a whopping eleven days to rest, recuperate and prepare for the Rams. No excuses for the team from here on out.
Week 15 – @ Chicago
The Seahawks have played well in Chicago in recent years, save for last season’s playoff loss. Hopefully, the conditions won’t be as brutal as then. The playing field at Soldier Field is terrible. If the field is as bad as it was this past January, the Seahawks could be in trouble. I was there, and it looked like the game was being played on concrete.
Week 16 – San Francisco
Week 17 – @ Arizona
If the Seahawks are still in contention for the NFC West championship, their fate will be squarely in their own hands. Even if the games are meaningless to the Seahawks, they still could play spoiler for at least one of these teams. Seattle will not have faced either team for over three months, so the team they face will likely be drastically different from the one they played earlier in the season.
The season, for all intents and purposes, could very well be over after Week 5. The same for Week 11. If the team can maintain a .500 or better record at that point, we could be looking at an incredibly exciting end of the season. If not, everyone will be focusing on the Seahawks’ draft position.