Clayton: How 2020 schedule has worked out favorably for the Seahawks
Oct 9, 2020, 1:52 PM
Long-time NFL head coach Dick Vermeil taught me a lot of football through my years of talking to him, which I have used when covering the Seahawks and the rest of the NFL.
He was always ahead of a lot of coaches in the league. Vermeil may not be one of the first who embraced analytics, but he was in the first wave. He used a great statistician named Bud Goode, who came up with different formulas for success.
The one that taught me the most was following the schedule of a team to determine its success. Vermeil always preached you can go .500 against teams with winning records and go to the Super Bowl. The key was not playing too many winning teams. In other words, if you go 3-3 against winning teams, you can go 10-0 against losing teams and be 13-3. Look at the Chicago Bears a couple years ago. They went 12-4, but they only had five games against winning teams. In those five, they were 4-1. They went 8-3 against losing teams.
What interesting about Sunday night’s game against the Minnesota Vikings it’s the fifth non-division game for the Seahawks. Each team gets 10 non-division games and six in the division, the NFC West for the Seahawls.
If the Seahawks win, they will be 5-0 going into the bye week. After the bye week, things get tough. They play at Arizona, host the San Francisco 49ers, visit the Buffalo Bills and go to the Los Angeles Rams. That is the toughest part of the schedule.
But here’s the key: If the Seahawks win Sunday night, they could go 9-1 in non-division games, with the Bills game being the toughest. Even though everyone is complaining about the pass defense, the Seahawks got several big breaks with the early part of the schedule. Excluding divisional games, this was their toughest stretch of quarterbacks. They opened against Matt Ryan, Cam Newton and Dak Prescott. Ryan Fitzpatrick is an experienced quarterback. Kirk Cousins may be up and down, but he is really good.
As it turned out, the combined records of these five teams is 5-15. The Patriots are 2-2.
In the final 11 games, the Seahawks face a 4-0 Bills team, but the other four non-divisional games are against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Washington Football Team, the New York Giants and the New York Jets. Those four teams have combined records of 2-13-1.
Compare that to the 49ers. The 49ers are 2-2, but their wins are against the Giants and Jets. The losses were to Arizona and Philadelphia, both at home. None of those teams have a winning record, which means things could be tougher in the 49ers’ final 11 games.
As part of the non-divisional game schedule, there are two non-common games. Those are games in the conference in which teams face other teams based on how they finished in the previous season. The Seahawks finished second in the NFC West last year, so they faced other second-placed teams. Those were the Atlanta Falcons, whom they beat Week 1, and the Vikings, who come to town on Sunday.
The 49ers finished first last year, so they get Green Bay and New Orleans in their non-common games. That means they face Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. The 49ers’ closing schedule is the second-hardest in the league at .646. The Seahawks have the seventh easiest at .448.
Teams in the NFC West also have to worry about the Los Angeles Rams. They are 3-1. Their closing schedule is eighth hardest at .542. As Vermeil taught me, schedule is everything.