Seahawks Breakdown: A close look at Seattle’s 2020 opponents, part 1
With the Seahawks’ 2020 schedule officially released, deliberations have officially started regarding how Seattle will fare in the upcoming season.
In order to best do that, you need to know was much as you can about each of their opponents. That’s what I hope to provide here.
Even though we’re in the midst of a very strange offseason that has been drastically altered by the coronavirus pandemic, teams have still been able to add and subtract players through the free agency, trades and the draft. So, here’s the first part of a closer examination at each of Seattle’s opponents. We’ll take a look at what happened when the two teams last faced off, what the opponent’s 2019 record was, the players those teams have added, parted ways with and drafted, and finally some notes about what to look for when they meet the Seahawks in 2020.
Week 1, Sept. 13: Seattle at Atlanta Falcons
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: CB A.J. Terrell (draft), DE Dante Fowler, RB Todd Gurkey, TE Hayden Hurst, DE Charles Harris, DT Tyeler Davison (re-signed)
Notable departures: TE Austin Hooper, CB Desmond Trufant, DE/OLB Vic Beasley Jr., RB Devonta Freeman (unsigned)
2019 record: 7-9
Last meeting: Seahawks 27, Falcons 20 – Week 8, 2019
What to know: The Seahawks and Falcons know each other very well, facing off a number of times over the years. Falcons head coach Dan Quinn coached under Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll as a defensive line coach and later as defensive coordinator when the Seahawks won Super Bowl 48.
The Falcons will return a strong cast on offense, led by quarterback Matt Ryan and receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. They did, however, lose tight end Austin Hooper while adding former Ravens tight end Hayden Hurts. But another player the Seahawks know awfully well, running back Todd Gurley, has joined Atlanta after being released by the Los Angeles Rams.
Defense was a struggle for the Falcons last year, giving up the 10th-most points and 13th-most yards. That could get worse with top corner Desmond Trufant signing with the Lions and pass rusher Vic Beasley Jr. going to Tennessee.
Seattle won last year’s game in Atlanta 27-20, though Ryan was inactive with an injury. This should be a good test to see how Seattle’s defense looks after a very poor 2019 showing.
Week 2, Sept. 20: Seattle vs New England Patriots – Sunday Night Football
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: S Devin McCourty (re-signed), ST Matthew Slater (re-signed), QB Brian Hoyer, DT Beau Allen, S Adrian Phillips, OG Joe Thuney (franchise tag)
Notable departures: QB Tom Brady, WR Phillip Dorsett (Seahawks), DT Danny Shelton, OLB Jamie Collins, OLB Kyle Van Noy
2019 record: 12-4
Last matchup: Seahawks 31, Patriots 24 – Week 10, 2016
What to know: Tom Brady is no longer the starting quarterback for the Patriots. Wow, what a weird thing to say.
Brady left Foxboro for Tampa Bay and New England didn’t draft a quarterback, signaling that 2019 fourth-rounder Jarrett Stidham will take over. Young quarterbacks typically struggle at CenturyLink Field against Pete Carroll’s Seahawks, so this could be a rough go for Stidham, who would be starting just his second NFL game.
To make it more interesting, the game is set for primetime on Sunday Night Football, which the Seahawks are historically dominant in. The big question is whether or not the 12th Man will be able to have an impact, as the coronavirus could effect whether or not fans are allowed in the stands.
Additionally, Pete Carroll is undefeated against Bill Belichick in the regular season. His lone loss to the Patriots while with the Seahawks is in Super Bowl 49, which we won’t bring up more than we have to here.
Week 3, Sept. 27: Seattle vs Dallas Cowboys
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: Head coach Mike McCarthy, QB Dak Prescott (franchise tag), WR Amari Cooper (re-signed), WR CeeDee Lamb (draft), QB Andy Dalton, LB Sean Lee (re-signed), S Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix, TE Blake Jarwin (re-signed), IOL Joe Looney (re-signed), DT Gerald McCoy, DT Dontari Poe, K Greg Zuerlein, DE Aldon Smith
Notable departures: Head coach Jason Garrett, TE Jason Witten, CB Byron Jones, WR Randall Cobb, DE Robert Quinn, C Travis Frederick (retired)
2019 record: 8-8
Last matchup: Cowboys 24, Seahawks 22 – Wild Card Round, 2018 playoffs
What to know: After making the postseason in 2018 and ending Seattle’s season, the Cowboys were one of the more disappointing teams in the NFL last year, going 8-8 and failing to win the poor NFC East.
The Cowboys parted ways with longtime head coach Jason Garrett and replaced him with former Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, another offensive-minded coach, so there’s some expectation that Dallas will feature a new-look offense under McCarthy and offensive coordinator Kellen Moore.
Dallas returns their quarterback, running back and No. 1 and 2 receivers, but the pick of receiver CeeDee Lamb is one that was lauded by most draft experts, who believe the Cowboys could have the best receiver trio in the league with Lamb, Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup.
Top cornerback Byron Jones left Dallas for Miami in free agency, so their secondary is worth watching going forward.
Many expect the Cowboys to retake the division in 2020, so this has the potential of being a playoff preview early in the season.
Week 4, Oct. 4: Seattle at Miami Dolphins
Notable additions, re-signings and draft picks: QB Tua Tagovailoa (draft), OT Austin Jackson (draft), CB Noah Igbinoghene (draft), CB Byron Jones, OT Ereck Flowers, RB Jordan Howard, DE Shaq Lawson, DE Emmanuel Ogbah, LB Kyle Van Noy, S Adrian Colbert (re-signed)
Notable departures: DE Taco Charlton, CB Aqib Talib (unsigned), DE Charles Harris
2019 record: 5-11
Last matchup: Seahawks 12, Dolphins 10 – Week 1, 2016
What to know: The Dolphins embraced the tank last year and were able to get their franchise quarterback in Tua Tagovailoa as well as top picks in tackle Austin Jackson and cornerback Noah Igbinoghene, who joins a suddenly potent secondary, headlined by cornerbacks Byron Jones and Xavien Howard.
But when these teams square off, all eyes will be on the young quarterback and whether or not he’s healthy and playing. If he’s not, journeyman passer Ryan Fitzpatrick is likely under center.
While traveling across the country for 10 a.m. starts has historically worked against the Seahawks, they went 7-1 last year on the road with their only loss coming to the Los Angeles Rams. This will be the second of five East Coast games the Seahawks play.
Week 5, Oct. 11: Seattle vs Minnesota Vikings – Sunday Night Football
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: WR Justin Jefferson (draft), CB Jeff Gladney (draft), S Anthony Harris (franchise tag), DT Michael Pierce
Notable departures: WR Stefon Diggs, CB Xavier Rhodes, CB Mackensie Alexander, WR Laquon Treadwell, DE Everson Griffen (unsigned)
2019 record: 10-6
Last matchup: Seahawks 37, Vikings 30 – Week 13, 2019
What to know: The Seahawks handled the Vikings better than the 37-30 score would indicate, as Minnesota scored a long touchdown on a busted coverage and got a very strange pick-6. But running backs Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny worked in tandem, scoring three total touchdowns and running all over the Vikings’ front.
But Penny is recovering from an ACL tear and could be unavailable for Seattle. If so, Carson will be tasked with carrying the brunt of the touches out of the backfield.
For the Vikings, it’s a pretty similar team to the one Seattle saw last season, but they have some notable losses, namely receiver Stefon Diggs, who was traded to Buffalo. Former All-Pro cornerback Xavier Rhodes is gone after some struggles last year, as is cornerback Mackensie Alexander and pass rusher Everson Griffen, who some believe could wind up with the Seahawks.
This is the third year in a row that the Vikings have come to Seattle for a primetime game. The Seahawks have won the last two, coming on Thursday Night Football and Monday Night Football. This year will be on Sunday Night Football.
Week 6: BYE WEEK
What to know: After a later bye last year (Week 11), the Seahawks get an earlier one for the fourth time in five years. In 2018, Seattle had Week 7 off. In 2017 it was Week 6 and in 2016 it was Week 5.
Seattle’s bye came at a good time last year with the team very banged up after Week 10, so an earlier bye may not necessarily be a good thing. But, arguably the toughest stretch of Seattle’s season is Week 7 through Week 12, so it could be a blessing as well. Time will tell.
Week 7, Oct. 25: Seattle at Arizona Cardinals
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: WR DeAndre Hopkins, LB Isaiah Simmons (draft), RB Kenyan Drake (transition tag), WR Larry Fitzgerald (re-signed), LB De’Vondre Campbell, OL Marcus Gilbert (re-signed), LB Devon Kennard, DT Jordan Phillips
Notable departures: RB David Johnson, WR/KR Pharaoh Cooper
2019 record: 5-10-1
Last matchup in Arizona: Seahawks 27, Cardinals 10 – Week 4, 2019
What to know: The Cardinals have always been a thorn in the Seahawks’ side and that was on full display in Week 16 of last year when they came to Seattle and won 27-13 despite starting quarterback Kyler Murray missing the second half with an injury.
Russell Wilson was under duress all game, the offense couldn’t get going and running backs Chris Carson and C.J. Prosise both suffered season-ending injuries while Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake ran for 166 yards and two touchdowns.
For some odd reason, the two teams seem to split the season series with each team winning the road game, as was the case last season. Coming off a bye, we’ll see if Seattle can continue their success in Phoenix, where they’ve won every year since 2016, when the teams tied at 6-6. Seattle’s last loss in Arizona was Week 1 of 2012.
Making things more interesting this year will be star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who the Cardinals acquired from the Houston Texans. He gives Murray another big target along with future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald and he could be a problem for the Seahawks and the rest of the NFC West for years to come.
Week 8, Nov. 1: Seattle vs San Francisco 49ers
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: DT Javon Kinlaw (draft), WR Brandon Aiyuk (draft), DE Arik Armstead (re-signed), WR Travis Benjamin, C Ben Garland (re-signed), S Jimmie Ward (re-signed)
Notable departures: DT DeForest Buckner, WR Emmanuel Sanders
2019 record: 13-3
Last matchup in Seattle: 49ers 26, Seahawks 21 – Week 17, 2019
What to know: After some down years, the 49ers are once again a team to be reckoned with after a 13-3 season and winning the NFC.
And maybe best of all, their success means that the Seahawks-49ers rivalry is back in full force, especially after two of the best games we saw in the entire NFL last season in Week 10 and Week 17. The Seahawks took the first matchup, which was in San Francisco, 27-24 in overtime while the 49ers won in Seattle 26-21 by literal inches on the game’s final play to win the NFC West.
San Francisco will feature many of the same players that took them to the Super Bowl last year, like quarterbac Jimmy Garropolo former Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman. They will also feature two first-round rookies in their lineups in defensive tackle Javon Kinlaw and receiver Brandon Aiyuk. Kinlaw will likely be replacing talented defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, who was traded to the Indianapolis Colts.
Expect the 49ers to once again have one of the league’s best defensive lines and pass rushes while also utilizing a diverse running attack that led them to a Super Bowl in 2019. Both their strengths play into areas of question for the Seahawks, who hope to feature better defensive line play and will also have at least three new starting offensive linemen for 2020.
Week 9, Nov. 8: Seattle at Buffalo Bills
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: WR Stefon Diggs, DE Mario Addison, DT Vernon Butler, CB E.J. Gaines, DE Quinton Jefferson (Seahawks), CB Josh Norman, OG Quinton Spain (re-signed)
Notable departures: RB Frank Gore, DE Shaq Lawson, OLB Lorenzo Alexander (retired), DT Jordan Phillips
2019 record: 10-6
Last matchup: Seahawks 31, Bills 25 – Week 9, 2016
What to know: After two decades of Tom Brady and the Patriots running the AFC East, it looks like it’s the Bills’ time to take over the division, especially after last year’s playoff berth.
While Buffalo ultimately lost in the playoffs to the Texans, it was overall a successful season as second-year quarterback Josh Allen made some strides, the defense was one of the best in the league and they appeared to find their top runner in 2019 rookie Devin Singletary. There’s good reason why the Bills will be favored to win the division in 2020.
The Bills’ offense will finally have a true No. 1 receiver for Allen in Stefon Diggs, and the defense should once again be one of the better units in the league with not too many losses and some solid additions like defensive end Mario Addison and defensive tackle Vernon Butler. The Seahawks will also see a familiar face on their defensive line in Quinton Jefferson.
Seattle’s new-look offensive line will have quite the task in keeping Wilson upright and creating holes for the Seahawks’ running backs. The game being on the road also makes this one potentially of Seattle’s toughest games of the season.
Look for the second preview of Seattle’s 2020 opponents in the coming days on 710Sports.com.
More on the Seahawks’ 2020 schedule
• Bumpus: The Seahawks could go undefeated on the road in 2020
• Clayton: Why the Seahawks’ 2020 schedule looks very favorable
• Moore: Seahawks’ schedule is encouraging, but no fans would be a big blow