The Seahawks have classic rivals in the 49ers and new rivals in the Rams. It would be a grave mistake to overlook the Cardinals. Yes, the Cardinals.
The Seahawks rivalries within the NFC West are among the best in the NFL. The 49ers have been the traditional rival for decades. The Rams have taken over as the bully on the block, at least for the past couple of years. Yet the Cardinals have always seemed to be an afterthought. That is a big mistake.
The 49ers are the classic rivals of the Seahawks. Since Seattle joined the NFC West in 2002, the two teams have accounted for 11 of the 17 division titles. The Hawks took eight of those titles, for those keeping score at home. Actually, San Francisco has won the same number of titles as the other two division rivals. So it’s Seattle eight, and the also-rans three each.
Since Pete Carroll came to town, the Niners haven’t fared as well. It took Carroll a couple of years to warm up – San Francisco won four of the first five contests – but beginning December 2012 Seattle won 10 straight games. The rivalry looked dead until the Niners rose up and nearly ruined the Hawks playoff chances last year. With their expected improvement, look for the Niners to bounce back in a big way. Since returning to the NFC, the Seahawks are 22-12 versus the Niners, plus a postseason win.
Seahawks struggle against Cardinals too often
As for the Rams, they’re the new kid on the block, as far as a rivalry. Los Angeles has been in the division since its inception in 1967. Seattle battled them in their inaugural season, then moved to the AFC West the very next year. Lately, the Rams have been dominant. Seattle has lost the last three games and six of the last eight. That flies in the face of my argument, but I see the clock running out on the Rams recent success. Since 2002 the Hawks are 21-13 against the Rams, plus a postseason loss.
Now we get to the Cardinals. For whatever reason, Seattle often struggles against Arizona. These guys seem to always have their traps set for the Hawks. Under Carroll, they’ve outscored the dudes from the desert 461 – 297 overall. 58 points of that margin were in one game, though. Seven of the eighteen contests have been decided by three points or less, and of course, one wasn’t decided at all. The last six games have been settled by no more than four points. Only three of the 18 Rams games were that close, five versus the Niners.
Seattle is 19-14-1 against Arizona since joining the division, 11-6-1 under Carroll. The Hawks are 12-6 against the Niners in that same time frame, and 9-9 versus the Rams. Yes, the Rams have been the tougher opponent lately, but I see their window closing soon. The Cardinals have played the Seahawks very tough when they had no business doing that. I expect them to be tougher for the next several years. Welcome to your new rivals, 12s.