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Seahawks game-by-game capsules: 2016 schedule sets up for fast start

Thomas Rawls was on pace to top 1,000 yards rushing as a rookie before he broke his ankle in Week 14. (AP)

Start faster.

It’s the single biggest imperative for a Seahawks team that lost its first two games last season and didn’t get above .500 until the second-to-last day of November.

Start faster.

That’s something the Seahawks should have an easier time with this year. At least that’s how it looks with the NFL’s announcement of the regular-season schedule on Thursday.

O’Neil: Seahawks’ schedule by the numbers

After starting with two straight road games last season, the Seahawks begin 2016 at home against Miami. It’s only the sixth time since 2000 that Seattle hosts its season-opener. Not only that, but none of Seattle’s first five opponents made the playoffs last season. Compare that to a year ago when three of the Seahawks’ first six opponents were coming off postseason berths.

Top it all off with a bye in Week 5, and well, you couldn’t get a better set-up from the schedule-makers for a fast start. With that out of the way, let’s scope out the 16-game marathon.


EASE INTO IT

The Seahawks have an invitation to a fast start. Well, relatively speaking, of course. Seattle is 3-8 all-time against Miami, its lowest regular-season winning percentage against any opponent. But the Dolphins haven’t had a winning season in any year since 2008. They haven’t won a playoff game since the 2000 season. They have a new head coach in Adam Gase. That’s as close to a running start as you get in the NFL, especially when you consider Seattle’s next four opponents. With that in mind, let’s get going:

Week 1: vs. Miami

Last meeting: Dolphins 24, Seahawks 21 (Nov. 25, 2012 in Miami)

Last time in Seattle: Seahawks 24, Dolphins 17 (Nov. 21, 2004)

One of the biggest victories in franchise history was the Seahawks’ playoff upset of Miami in 1983. That’s a rare highlight, though. In addition to their 3-8 regular-season record against Miami, Seattle has lost to the Dolphins twice in the playoffs since then.

Week 2: at Los Angeles Rams

Last meeting: Rams 23, Seahawks 17 (Dec. 27, 2015 in Seattle)

Last time in L.A.: Seahawks 38, Raiders 9 (Sept. 11, 1994)

Seattle is 2-4 on the road against the Rams under Pete Carroll, so maybe a change of scenery will do some good. The Rams are playing the next couple of years in the L.A. Coliseum, where the Seahawks have not played since 1994. Besides, Carroll is familiar with the Coliseum. It’s the home field for USC, which he coached from 2001 through 2009.

Week 3: vs. San Francisco

Last meeting: Seahawks 29, 49ers 13 (Nov. 22, 2015 in Seattle)

The Seahawks have won six of the past seven regular-season meetings with San Francisco. Not only that, but the 49ers have scored a combined total of four touchdowns in those last seven games.

Week 4: at New York Jets

Last meeting: Seahawks 28, Jets 7 (Nov. 11, 2012 in Seattle)

Last time in New York vs. the Jets: Jets 37, Seahawks 14 (Dec. 19, 2004)

Seattle has won three in a row at the Jets’ stadium, but two of those were against the Giants and the other was the Super Bowl victory over the Broncos. In fact, Seattle hasn’t played the Jets on the road since they moved into MetLife Stadium.

Week 5: Bye

Week 6: vs. Atlanta

Last meeting: Seahawks 33, Atlanta 10 (Nov. 10, 2013 in Atlanta)

Last time in Seattle: Falcons 30, Seahawks 28 (Oct. 2, 2011)

Carroll is 1-2 against the Falcons in the regular season and 1-3 if you include Seattle’s postseason loss in Atlanta in January of 2013. The Falcons are the only NFC team with a winning regular-season record against Carroll in his time as Seahawks coach.


THE GRINDHOUSE

The Seahawks had an odd schedule last season. Their first two games were on the road, one of two instances in which Seattle played back-to-back road games. Seattle also hosted back-to-back home games on three separate occasions.

Well, this season Seattle plays back-to-back road games exactly once and never hosts games on consecutive weekends, but one of the tougher sections of Seattle’s schedule begins with a Sunday night game at Arizona.

Week 7: at Arizona

Last time in Arizona: Seahawks 36, Cardinals 6 (Jan. 3, 2016)

Seattle used to have a real hard time winning in Arizona. Seattle was 1-6 there from 2006 – which is when the Cardinals moved into their new stadium – through 2012. In that time, the Seahawks were 5-2 at home against Arizona. Well, the Seahawks have won their past three games at Arizona by a combined score of 105-34. However, the Seahawks are 1-2 at home against Arizona over those three seasons.

Week 8: at New Orleans

Last meeting: Seahawks 23, Saints 15 (Jan. 11, 2014, Divisional Playoffs in Seattle)

Last time in New Orleans: Saints 34, Seahawks 19 (Nov. 21, 2010)

It was Seattle that ended the Saints’ reign as NFL champs in the 2010 playoffs when Marshawn Lynch’s 67-yard touchdown run made the earth move and shattered New Orleans’ hopes of winning back-to-back Super Bowls. In 2013, the 10-1 Seahawks hosted the 9-2 Saints on a Monday night, and Seattle dismantled them 34-7 to announce the end of New Orleans as a championship threat. The Seahawks dispatched the Saints 23-15 in the playoffs that season and the Saints haven’t been back to the postseason since. In other words, don’t expect the Saints to be gracious hosts this year.

Week 9: vs. Buffalo

Last meeting: Seahawks 50, Bills 17 (Dec. 16, 2012 in Toronto)

Last time in Seattle: Bills 38, Seahawks 9 (Nov. 28, 2004)

The Seahawks are 5-3 at home against the Bills, and Seattle has won 10 straight games played on Monday night. Seattle hasn’t lost at home on Monday since 2004, but Buffalo has won the past two games it has played in Seattle, scoring an average of 40 points in those games.

Week 10: at New England

Last meeting: Patriots 28, Seahawks 24 (Feb. 21, 2015 – ugh – Super Bowl XLIX in Arizona)

Last time in New England: Patriots 30, Seahawks 20 (Oct. 17, 2004)

The Patriots will be coming off a bye. The Seahawks will be traveling across the country after hosting Buffalo on Monday night. It has been 12 years since Seattle played in New England, and the Seahawks will be facing the team that defeated them in the Super Bowl two seasons ago. Seattle is 5-4 at New England.


A BREATHER

OK. That’s probably a bad description. There are no breathers in the NFL, but this is as close as it gets. The Seahawks will have played three of four games on the road – including two on the road against opponents that made the playoffs in 2015 – and now will return home. For a week.

Week 11: vs. Philadelphia

Last meeting: Seahawks 24, Eagles 14 (Dec. 7, 2014 in Philadelphia)

Last time in Seattle: Seahawks 31, Eagles 14 (Dec. 1, 2011)

The Eagles have been a landmark of sorts for Seattle. In 2005, Philadelphia was the opponent when Seattle announced how dominant it was with a 42-0 shutout of the Eagles on Monday night. Three years later, the Eagles’ 26-7 victory at CenturyLink Field announced Seattle’s downturn under Tim Ruskell just as the Seahawks’ 31-14 victory in Seattle in 2011 announced the arrival of a Seahawks franchise rebuilt under general manager John Schneider and Carroll.

Week 12: at Tampa Bay

Last meeting: Seahawks 27, Buccaneers 24, OT (Nov. 3, 2013 in Seattle)

Last time in Tampa Bay: Buccaneers 38, Seahawks 15 (Dec. 26, 2010)

Seattle and Tampa Bay played each other six times in seven seasons from 2004 through 2010. This will be only the second meeting between the teams in the past six seasons. They both entered the league in 1976, quarterback Jameis Winston is in his second year after being chosen No. 1 overall and any more factoids would just be droning on.


THE CRUCIBLE

Three games in 12 days. That’s for starters in the toughest turn of Seattle’s schedule, and in the span of four weeks Seattle will play three teams that made the playoffs last season. Yup, this is where things get interesting.

Week 13: vs. Carolina

Last meeting: Panthers 31, Seahawks 24 (Jan. 17, 2016 in Carolina, Divisional Playoffs)

Last time in Seattle: Panthers 27, Seahawks 23 (Oct. 18, 2015)

This is the fifth straight regular season the teams have played. Throw in a playoff game in each of the past two years and a regular-season meeting in 2010 and this will be the eighth time in Carroll’s seven seasons in Seattle that the Seahawks and Panthers have played each other. Seattle won the first five of those meetings. The Panthers have won the past two.

Week 14: at Green Bay

Last meeting: Packers 27, Seahawks 17 (Sept. 20, 2015 at Green Bay)

The Seahawks’ Week 2 loss in Green Bay last year was the first time since November 2011 that Seattle had been beaten by double digits. It’s one of only two times that Seattle has lost by more than seven points in a game Russell Wilson started.

Week 15: vs. Los Angeles Rams

Last meeting: Rams 23, Seahawks 17 (Dec. 27, 2015 in Seattle)

Wilson is 4-4 against the Rams as a starting quarterback, the most losses he’s suffered to any single opponent. Not only that, but the Rams have stymied Seattle’s offense. The Seahawks have scored more than 20 points in three of the eight meetings with the Rams since Wilson arrived.

Week 16: vs. Arizona

Last meeting: Seahawks 36, Cardinals 6 (Jan. 3, 2016 in Arizona)

Last time in Seattle: Cardinals 39, Seahawks 32 (Nov. 15, 2015)

Wilson is 27-5 in home games as Seattle’s starting quarterback, 31-5 if you include the playoffs. Two of those five losses, however, have come to Arizona. The Cardinals’ win in Seattle last November was the Seahawks’ first home loss in prime-time since 2007.


THE CAPPER

Used to be that San Francisco was the opponent marked on the Seahawks’ schedule, and the games in San Francisco were the rock to Seattle playing the part of Sisyphus. That’s a tortured metaphor, though, and the 49ers aren’t some mythical counterweight so much as the team Seattle already toppled. Can the Seahawks stay on top, though?

Week 17: at San Francisco

Last meeting: Seahawks 29, 49ers 13 (Nov. 22, 2015 in Seattle)

Last time in San Francisco: Seahawks 20, 49ers 3 (Oct. 22, 2015)

The Seahawks lost five straight games at San Francisco from 2009 to 2013. They’ve won their past two games in San Francisco by a combined score of 39-6. Both of those games were played on Thursday night.