Heaps: Why 1st half of season is biggest challenge in Seahawks’ schedule

May 14, 2021, 10:45 AM
Seahawks Steelers...
The Seahawks face the 2020 AFC North champion Steelers in Pittsburgh in 2021. (Getty)

The 2021 NFL schedules were released this week and we now know when the Seahawks will be playing each of their 17 opponents.

Seahawks Schedule: 17-game season opens at Colts, 5 primetime games

The Seahawks are tied for 11th in strength of schedule for the 2021 NFL season according to CBS Sports, and according to former NFL quarterback Jake Heaps, the first half of the season figures to be quite a challenge for Seattle.

Heaps explained why that’s the case on 710 ESPN Seattle’s Jake and Stacy on Thursday.

“When you look at it before the bye week, it’s going to be tough,” he said.

In the first-ever 17-game NFL season, the Seahawks have a bye week in the middle of the year in Week 9. But before that, they play eight games, and Heaps says that nearly every one of Seattle’s opponents ahead of the bye are extremely tough.

“You look at the Colts, the Titans, the Vikings, San Francisco, L.A., Pittsburgh, the Saints – these are very physical teams,” Heaps said. “These are teams who on defense or with the way they want to run the football, they are going to get in your face, they’re going to be physical and they’re going to make you earn it.”

Of the Seahawks’ first eight opponents, five went to the playoffs in 2020, including the Seahawks’ first two opponents – Indianapolis and Tennessee. In 2020, the Titans won the AFC South, the Steelers won the AFC North, the Saints won the NFC South and the Rams and Colts were both Wild Card teams, with L.A. beating Seattle in the first round of the playoffs.

And with the other three teams, at least two of them figure to be much better than last year in San Francisco and Minnesota. The 49ers were one of the most injured teams in the NFL last year after making the Super Bowl in 2019, and the Vikings nearly beat the Seahawks in Week 5 of 2020, and it took a Russell Wilson touchdown pass with 15 seconds left for Seattle to come away with the victory.

“I think that’s going to be the unique challenge for the Seahawks right out of the gate,” Heaps said. “They’re not going to really have any breathers in terms of physical slugfests. They are going to have to earn it every single week for the first seven weeks of the season, and then they get a nice game versus (the Jacksonville Jaguars), which is interesting, before they go to the bye. But those first seven weeks of the season, I’m looking at it going boy, that’s going to be a real, real tough part of the schedule.”

You can listen to the full second hour of Thursday’s Jake and Stacy at this link or in the player below.

Follow Brandon Gustafson on Twitter.

Clayton: Hawks’ schedule looks tough, but they catch several key breaks

Jake & Stacy Show

Jake and Stacy

Seahawks Carlos Dunlap...
Stacy Rost

Rost: The 2 missing pieces Seahawks need to find this offseason

Stacy Rost of 710 ESPN Seattle's Jake and Stacy looks at the two big Seahawks priorities this offseason -- besides a new defensive coordinator.
11 hours ago
Mariners general hat glove...
Brandon Gustafson

Mariners Prospects: Baseball America’s Glaser details Seattle’s top arms

Led by George Kirby, a first-round pick drawing comparisons to the 2020 AL Cy Young, the strength of the stocked Mariners farm system is now on the mound.
1 day ago
Seahawks Dunlap Woods...
Brandon Gustafson

Bumpus: Seahawks top offseason priority should be addressing the trenches

As the Seahawks enter the 2022 offseason, former NFL WR Michael Bumpus says, once again, Seattle should prioritize the OL and DL.
2 days ago
Mariners OF Julio Rodriguez...
Brandon Gustafson

Baseball America’s Kyle Glaser: Mariners’ Julio Rodríguez can be one of the faces of MLB

Talented Mariners OF prospect Julio Rodríguez has the potential to be a star and among the league's best, Kyle Glaser told Jake and Stacy.
2 days ago
Seahawks Quandre Diggs...
Brandon Gustafson

Heaps: The 6 ‘no-brainers’ the Seahawks must re-sign this offseason

When it comes to the Seahawks' pending free agents, Jake Heaps believes there are six the team must prioritize bringing back for 2022.
4 days ago
Seahawks Ethan Pocic...
Brandon Gustafson

Heaps: Big offseason priority for Seahawks is to find ‘top-tier’ center

After starting two players at center who were on the roster in 2020, Jake Heaps thinks the Seahawks need to go get a stud at the position.
5 days ago
Heaps: Why 1st half of season is biggest challenge in Seahawks’ schedule