What is always one of the trickier unknowns when assessing the hopes of an NFL team in the pre-season is the schedule (which for the Seahawks you can find here and which is also printed at the bottom of this entry).
Unlike college football, where a team that is good one year and looks to be good the next year is probably going to turn out to be pretty good, the strength of NFL teams can vary greatly from one season to the next. Health also plays a key role — what a team is like in week one may not be what it is like in week nine, etc. There’s just no way to account for everything that might happen at this point.
The traditional way of evaluating a schedule before the season is to look at the previous year’s win-loss record of the opponents. By that measure, Seattle has one of the tougher schedules in the NFL, rated No. 11 in terms of win-loss percentage at .516 (130-122-4).
Of course, as you can see by looking at that linked chart, Seattle’s schedule is also considered the “easiest” among the teams in the NFC West, with the Rams at No. 4, the Cardinals at No. 7 and the 49ers at No. 9. Obviously, some of that is due to the strength of the division itself — the Rams and Cardinals have to play two games each against the 49ers and Seahawks and their gaudy records of 2012.
The 49ers (check their schedule here) and Seahawks have — as the chart suggests — pretty similar schedules.
If there’s any possible slight advantage to the 49ers, it’s that some of what are Seattle’s tougher road non-divisional games — Atlanta, Indianapolis, Houston — are all home games for San Francisco. But that seems balanced by the 49ers having to go on the road to New Orleans and Washington (and in back-to-back weeks in November).
And by any measure, the schedule presents some obvious challenges for the Seahawks, even if they may be favored in all but one or two games all season.
The first five games in particular look somewhat daunting with road games against a Carolina team that won five of its last six games in 2012 (including a victory over Atlanta), and 2012 playoff squads in Houston and Indianapolis, sandwiched around the “game of the year” home contest on Sept. 15 against the 49ers.
By the end of that stretch, we should already have a pretty good idea in which direction the season is headed.
Seahawks 2013 schedule
Sept. 8, 10 a.m., at Carolina Panthers
Sept. 15, 5:30 p.m., San Francisco 49ers…Sunday night
Sept. 22, 1:25 p.m., Jacksonville Jaguars
Sept. 29, 10 a.m., at Houston Texans
Oct. 6, 10 a.m., at Indianapolis Colts
Oct. 13, 1:05 p.m., Tennessee Titans
Oct. 17, 5:25 p.m., at Arizona Cardinals…Thursday night
Oct. 28, 5:40 p.m., at St. Louis Rams…Monday night
Nov. 3, 1:05 p.m., Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Nov. 10, 10 a.m., at Atlanta Falcons
Nov. 17, 1:25 p.m., Minnesota Vikings
Dec. 2, 5:40 p.m., New Orleans Saints…Monday Night
Dec. 8, 1:25 p.m., at San Francisco 49ers
Dec. 15, 10 a.m., at New York Giants
Dec. 22, 1:05 p.m., Arizona Cardinals
Dec. 29, 1:25 p.m., at St. Louis Rams
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