For the Seattle Seahawks, the hard work in 2023 begins in Week 11

Seattle plays the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday.
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Since the 2023 NFL schedule was released in May, it was clear that the Seattle Seahawks season was going to be decided in November and December. Fans have nervously looked at that schedule and saw the Thanksgiving night showdown with San Francisco, followed by road dates to Dallas. back to San Francisco, and a home battle against the defending NFC champion Philadelphia Eagles. It's a gauntlet of epic proportions, but I believe the gauntlet truly starts this week in Los Angeles against the Rams.

Does anyone else still get a shiver down their spine every time they see that Rams logo pop up on the schedule? Whether it was Marc Bulger and Steven Jackson beating the Seahawks in Seattle in the Wild Card in 2005, Robert Quinn and Chris Long abusing Russell Wilson for years, the 42-7 shellacking at home, the end of the “Let Russ Cook” era in 2020, to that damn Puka Nacua, the Rams have been a true thorn in the side of the Seahawks.

This thorn may have never felt so painful as it did in Week 1 of this season. The Seahawks, hopeful of a special season and in front of their home crowd, were rocked by Matt Stafford and the Rams 30-13. Injuries to the tackles completely altered that game, but the outcome wasn't any less disappointing or concerning for the season. Thankfully, a 6-2 record rebound and the 49ers' three-game losing streak bring the Seahawks to Hollywood not just with a chance at revenge, but division title hopes within their reach.

The Seattle Seahawks have a very tough schedule for the rest of 2023

The Rams will be a different team than the one we saw in Seattle. Matt Stafford is still an elite quarterback, but his body is failing him. He should play this week, but I expect him to be far from 100 percent, dealing with a thumb injury. With Cooper Kupp, Tutu Atwell, and Nakua, the Rams passing attack should still be a difficult test for Seattle. 

Thankfully, the Rams will be seeing a much different Seahawks squad. Devon Witherspoon, Jamal Adams, and Riq Woolen are all healthy and fully available this time (Witherspoon and Adams didn't play in Week 1, Woolen was playing his first game post-cleanup on his knee). The defensive line lost Uchenna Nwosu but has been overhauled with the additions of Frank Clark and Leonard Williams, and the continued development of Boye Mafe. I expect the Seahawks' defense to show up in LA and play well.

This game, and really the most important factor in whether Seattle dies, survives, or thrives through the gauntlet, is going to be the offense.

9th in scoring last season (23.9 ppg) the Seahawks are currently 14th in the league in scoring (22.2 ppg). In their six wins this season, the Seahawks are averaging 28.5 ppg, which would be good for 2nd in the NFL. In their three losses, 9.7 ppg, which is…yikes. 

This Sunday is an opportunity for redemption after week one’s debacle, while the gauntlet as a whole presents an opportunity for validation. It's a chance for Geno Smith and offensive coordinator Shane Waldron to take this young, but talented offense, and answer some franchise-defining questions. Can they lead this team through the fire and come out a contender, or are they just Wild Card-caliber who will bridge the gap to the next guys?

Sometimes teams can go months, or even a full season without getting a true opportunity to see where they stand on so many important areas as a franchise. The Seahawks failed in Baltimore but will get another chance this next month, hopefully, they are ready for what lies ahead.

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