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Clayton: Why the Seahawks’ 2020 schedule looks very favorable

John Clayton believes the Seahawks have an easier schedule than you might think. (Getty)

In the end, the Seattle Seahawks came out with a very favorable schedule.

Seahawks 2020 schedule: Season opens in Atlanta, 4 games in primetime

Based on last year’s records, the Seahawks face a .508 schedule (129-125-2), which ranks as the 19th easiest schedule in the league. But when you break it down, the schedule is much easier than that.

Mike Clay from ESPN goes through the 256-game NFL season and projects wins and losses. Though he had the Seahawks being a 9-7 team, they have a much better chance to have a greater record than that. Under his record breakdowns, he has the Seahawks only playing five games with winning records.

Dick Vermeil used to say that you can go to the Super Bowl with a .500 record against winning teams, but the key is that you don’t play many of them. His theory is that if you play six games against winning teams and go 3-3, you have 10 games against losing teams. Those are games you could go 10-0 and end up with a 13-win season.

Well, according to Clay, the Seahawks will have seven games against teams that could end up with winning records – San Francisco (two games), Minnesota, Philadelphia, Buffalo, Dallas and New England. Clay has the Los Angeles Rams at 7.6 wins and the Arizona Cardinals at 7.5.

But here’s where the Seahawks get breaks. They get the early Nov. 1 game at home against San Francisco. They don’t play in San Francisco until Week 17. They play Dallas, Minnesota and New England at home, and the Patriots and Vikings in primetime games. Clearly, the Patriots aren’t likely to be a 12-win team without Tom Brady.

This will be Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham’s second game. Clay projects them to have an 8.1 record, but it’s very possible that they may not have a winning record. This season, Bill Belichick has shaken up the roster but has not brought much back in return.

It’s not out of the question for the Seahawks to go 5-2 or 4-3 in those games if you include the 49ers game.

If you look at the rest of the non-division schedule, the only truly experienced quarterback they face that might not be on a winning team is in the season opener against the Atlanta Falcons. The Russell Wilson-Matt Ryan matchup will be a good one, but the Seahawks are considered the slight favorite in that game, according to Vegas oddsmakers.

Where the Seahawks can thrive is in the other four non-division games. They play Washington, the New York Giants, the New York Jets and Miami. The Seahawks visit the Dolphins in Week 4. If Tua Tagovailoa is starting by then instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick, the Seahawks will face four quarterbacks with three years or less experience during those games. Sam Darnold has three years. Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones are in their second year. Tua is a rookie.

What helps the Seahawks is that the teams around those quarterbacks aren’t that good. Clay projects record for those teams will put them in the top 10 of the 2021 NFL draft. All four teams will be drafting in the top 10.

Here are a couple other advantages:

• The Seahawks face three teams with first-year coaches who won’t have their players in an offseason program – Mike McCarthy (Dallas), Joe Judge (Giants) and Ron Rivera (Redskins). First-year coaches probably won’t get with their players until training camp.

• Three of their primetime games are at home, which is an advantage. The only road primetime game is in Philadelphia.

• After the Eagles game on Nov. 30, the Seahawks have winnable games against the Giants, Jets and Redskins. Two of those games are at home. That would build momentum for a strong finish.

The schedule was favorable.

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