By Danny O’Neil
It’s not the start that coach Pete Carroll emphasizes to his team.
It’s the finish.
Two of the Seahawks’ final five games will be against San Francisco, one of three teams to beat Seattle in 2013. (AP)
That will be especially true for his Seahawks this season with a 16-game schedule that starts out tough and winds up with a decidedly brutal run of five division games over the final six weeks. Two of those division games are against San Francisco, a pair of grudge matches separated only by 17 days and a few years worth of bad blood.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. While the first part of Seattle’s schedule is not the worst, it’s a long way from easy. Each of Seattle’s first three opponents made the playoffs a year ago, the Seahawks kicking off the season at home on Sept. 4 against Green Bay, traveling to San Diego the next week before hosting the Broncos in Week 3 in a Super Bowl rematch.
Then the Seahawks get a bye to catch their breath before playing their only Monday night game of the season, Oct. 6 at Washington.
But in a six-week stretch from October to mid-November, the Seahawks will face exactly one team that made the playoffs last season. That would be the Panthers, who host Seattle Oct. 26, the third consecutive season in which Seattle has played at Carolina.
More on the Seahawks’ 2014 schedule:
|• Why only one prime-time home game?||• Blue 42: Did the Seahawks get snubbed?||• Clayton on the Seahawks’ schedule|
The gauntlet starts Nov. 16 in Kansas City. Of Seattle’s final seven regular-season games, six will be against teams that won 10 or more games a year ago. Five of those games will be against division opponents. Two of those games will be against San Francisco, the NFC’s top two teams a year ago playing on Thanksgiving in San Francisco before holding a rematch in Week 15 at CenturyLink Field.
Throw in a pair of games against the Cardinals, first on Nov. 23 and then Dec. 21, a game at the NFC East champion Eagles on Dec. 7 and a regular-season finale at home against St. Louis and the final half of Seattle’s schedule doesn’t look like a closing stretch so much as a colossal test of strength that will put some teeth into one of Carroll’s favorite sayings.
Because it’s not how Seattle starts this first season after a Super Bowl title that will decide the Seahawks’ fate, but how they finish.
|1||Sept. 4||5:30 p.m.||Packers (Thursday night)|
|2||Sept. 14||1:05 p.m.||at Chargers|
|3||Sept. 21||1:25 p.m.||Broncos|
|5||Oct. 6||5:30 p.m.||at Redskins|
|6||Oct. 12||1:25 p.m.||Cowboys|
|7||Oct. 19||10 a.m.||at Rams|
|8||Oct. 26||10 a.m.||at Panthers|
|9||Nov. 2||1:25 pm||Raiders|
|10||Nov. 9||1:25 p.m.||Giants|
|11||Nov. 16||10 a.m.||at Chiefs|
|12||Nov. 23||1:05 p.m.||Cardinals|
|13||Nov. 27||5:30 p.m.||at 49ers (Thanksgiving night)|
|14||Dec. 7||1:25 p.m.||at Eagles|
|15||Dec. 14||1:25 p.m.||49ers|
|16||Dec. 21||5:30 p.m.||at Cardinals (Sunday night)|
|17||Dec. 28||1:25 p.m.||Rams|