Below is an article written for this game by one of the past writers for 12th Man Rising. I’m very happy to have him back on staff, but we were unable to get his access rights fixed in time for today’s game so I’m posting it for him. I hope you all enjoy it!
"The Most Important Game of the Seasonby Joseph OkabeIt’s been over four months, but I’m happy to say I’m back, albeit on an extremely limited basis. For those of you who enjoyed my work, I hope I can keep up the quality. For those who didn’t, I hope I do better this time around.Here we go.Last season, I felt the most important game of the year was the season opener at home against the San Francisco 49ers. The Pete Carroll era had just begun, and I felt it was vital to get off to a good start and get away from the negativity that surrounded the team under the previous head coach. The schedule was the softest in years, and I envisioned the team getting off to a fast start and possibly winning the division. They eventually did, but not in the way I thought they would.One year later, and the situation is both very similar and very different. Once again, the Seahawks open the season against the 49ers, although this time it is in San Francisco. Once again, this is the most important game of the season.This season’s schedule is significantly tougher than last season’s. Whereas last year’s opening stretch was an excellent opportunity to get off to a fast start and build momentum, the Seahawks will be looking to somehow survive the first five games and keep their playoff chances alive before the bye week in Week 6. The team opens the season today at San Francisco, then plays at Pittsburgh, has home games against Arizona and Atlanta, then goes to New York to play the Giants in Week 5.Given the opponents and the Seahawks’ history of playing poorly in the Eastern time zone, the team in all likelihood won’t win in Pittsburgh or New York. They also will be heavily favored to lose to Atlanta. That’s what makes this game against San Francisco so vital. If the Seahawks lose today, there is a strong possibility the team will enter its bye week with a record of 1-4 or even 0-5. At that point, the season will be over for all intents and purposes.If the Seahawks win today, the prospect of entering the bye week with a 2-3 record becomes highly likely. The team’s playoff chances will still be alive, with the opportunity to build momentum after the bye with seemingly winnable games at Cleveland and at home against Cincinnati. Plus, the team will gain an important victory over a division rival. Winning games within the division is the number one priority for the Seahawks this season. The team went 4-2 within the division last season, and they must at least match that record this season to have any playoff aspirations.If the team should somehow enter the bye week with a record of 3-2 or better, that would be an amazing accomplishment. A division title and a playoff spot would become very real possibilities. I don’t see it happening, but I would be absolutely thrilled if it did.It all comes down to today. A victory could signal the beginning of a successful season. A loss, however, would almost certainly be a harbinger of impending doom. It’s finally time for some football. GO HAWKS!!!"