Seahawks Breakdown: Why 2nd half of schedule could make or break season
Last week, we took a look at each of the Seahawks’ first eight opponents of the 2020 season, checking on their additions and departures, what their 2019 record was and what we need to know about when they face off. Now, it’s time for the second half of the schedule.
Four of Seattle’s eight games from Week 10 onward are divisional games, with three NFC East opponents and an AFC East team mixed in as well. With Seattle expected to compete once again for a playoff spot, if not the NFC West title and the NFC’s top seed, these divisional and conference games will be critical to whether Seattle’s 2020 season is a success or a failure.
And, like last year, Week 17 could play a major role in playoff seeding, though the Seahawks will be on the road this time around.
So, let’s check out the Seahawks’ final eight games.
Week 10, Nov. 15: Seattle at Los Angeles Rams
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: DE Leonard Floyd, DT Michael Brockers (re-signed), OT Andrew Whitworth (re-signed), DT A’Shwan Robinson
Notable departures: RB Todd Gurley DE Dante Fowler, WR Brandin Cooks (trade), LB Cory Littleton, DE/OLB Clay Matthews Jr. (unsigned), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman, K Greg Zuerlein, S Eric Weddle (retired)
2019 record: 9-7
Last matchup in Los Angeles: Rams 28, Seahawks 12 – Week 15, 2019
What to know: The Rams took a major step back in 2019 after making the Super Bowl in 2018, dropping to 9-7 and missing the playoffs.
It looks like 2020 could be even worse for the Rams, as they parted ways with former All-Pro running back Todd Gurley as well as pass rushers Dante Fowler and Clay Matthews Jr. Additionally, Los Angeles traded deep threat receiver Brandin Cooks to the Houston Texans.
But as Seahawks fans know, the Rams, even when they were at their worst, always seem to make things tough for Seattle. This was on full display last year in Week 15, when Los Angeles handed the Seahawks their lone road loss in a 28-12 beatdown. Not only did the Seahawks struggle in all facets of the game, they lost promising second-year running back Rashaad Penny to a torn ACL.
And while some key players are off the team, the Rams still return defensive tackle Aaron Donald, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and receivers Cooper Kupp and Robert Woods. Head coach Sean McVay also returns, and you can be sure he will throw plenty at the Seahawks defense during their two games. If Seattle’s defense wants to improve from a poor 2019, going against a McVay-led offense is as good a test as you’re going to get.
Week 11, Nov. 19: Seattle vs Arizona Cardinals – Thursday Night Football
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 Seattle: Cardinals 27, Seahawks 13 – Week 16, 2019
What to know: For the first time since 2015, the Cardinals don’t come to Seattle during December. Additionally, this is the first year since 2010, Pete Carroll’s first year as head coach, that the two teams don’t face off in December.
While the Seahawks kept up their run of dominance in Arizona with a Week 4 win, the Cardinals took another game in Seattle with a lopsided 27-13 victory in Week 16, which saw Cardinals running back Kenyan Drake run all over the Seahawks, Seattle running back Chris Carson suffer a season-ending injury and former Seattle backup quarterback Brett Hundley lead Arizona to victory after taking over in the second half.
This will be the second time in five weeks that the Seahawks and Cardinals will face off, and this one will be in primetime on Thursday Night Football in Seattle. The matchup to watch will be cornerbacks Shaquill Griffin, Quinton Dunbar and maybe even Tre Flowers on Arizona’s star receiver DeAndre Hopkins.
Week 12, Nov. 30: Seattle at Philadelphia Eagles – Monday Night Football
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: CB Darius Slay (trade), WR Jalen Reagor (draft), DT Javon Hargrave, CB Jalen Mills (re-signed), CB Nickell Robey-Coleman,
Notable departures: RB Jordan Howard, WR Nelson Agholor, S Malcolm Jenkins, CB Ronald Darby, DT Timmy Jernigan, OT Jason Peters (unsigned)
2019 record: 9-7
Last matchup: Seahawks 17, Eagles 9 – Wild Card Round, 2019 playoffs
What to know: The Seahawks took down the Eagles twice last year, both games in Philadelphia and both games ending 17-9. The first game saw the apparent breakthrough of Rashaad Penny while the playoff game saw rookie receiver DK Metcalf set an NFL rookie record with 160 yards and a touchdown in his first career playoff game.
The Eagles, despite making the playoffs, had one of the worst receiving groups last year. They drafted three receivers, including Jalen Rageor in the first round, to give quarterback Carson Wentz more reliable options outside star tight end Zack Ertz. Rookie running back Miles Sanders emerged as the team’s go-to back last year, compiling over 1,300 yards on offense and six touchdowns.
On defense, the Eagles lost two key players in their secondary in Malcom Jenkins and Ronald Darby, but they return a very strong defensive line and added one of the game’s best cornerbacks, Darius Slay. At least on paper, the Eagles’ defense looks even better that it did in 2019 and they should again compete for a playoff spot.
Something to watch for this late in the season, however, involves Wentz and the quarterback position. Wentz played in all 16 games for the first time since his rookie season in 2016 – though he was knocked out of the playoff game with a concussion – which could be a good sign for the signal caller. But, the Eagles spent a second-round pick on intriguing quarterback prospect Jalen Hurts, who starred at Oklahoma and Alabama.
Wentz was an MVP candidate in 2017 before getting injured and the Eagles wold win the Super Bowl with Nick Foles at quarterback. Since then Wentz hasn’t quite been the same. If Wentz is hurt again, Hurts will likely be thrust into action. If Wentz plays poorly, does pressure mount on head coach Doug Peterson to start Hurts?
Week 13, Dec. 6: Seattle vs New York Giants
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: HC Joe Judge, OC Jason Garrett, OT Andrew Thomas (draft), DL Leonard Williams (franchise tag), LB Blake Martinez, RB Dion lewis, CB James Bradberry, LB David Mayo
Notable departures: QB Eli Manning (retired), HC Pat Shurmur, WR Cody Latimer, S Antoine Bethea (unsigned)
2019 record: 4-12
Last matchup: Seahawks 24, Giants 7 – Week 7, 2017
What to know: The Giants haven’t made the playoffs since 2016 and it doesn’t appear that will change in 2020.
The Giants appear to have their cornerstones on offense in quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley, but there are still plenty of holes on the roster. Now, Joe Judge will be the man leading the charge after the Giants fired Pat Shurmur. Judge is a former Patriots assistant and is one of the youngest coaches in the league at 38.
What will be interesting to watch is how their offense looks under new offensive coordinator Jason Garrett, who spent the last decade as head coach of the Giants’ division rival Dallas Cowboys. Can he help Jones take the next step? Can he make Barkley into a top-five running back like he had with Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas?
Additionally, how will the defense look? Seattle had a top-10 offense in 2019 and if their running backs are healthy, it figures to be in that category once again. The Giants spent on defense in free agency, bringing in veteran linebackers David Mayo and Blake Martinez, cornerback James Bradberry and giving the franchise tag to defensive lineman Leonard Williams. New York allowed the third-most points in the league in 2019. Will they improve on that mark in 2020?
Week 14, Dec. 13: Seattle vs New York Jets
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: OT Mekhi Becton (draft), George Fant (Seahawks), RB Frank Gore, CB Pierre Desir, C Connor McGovern, WR Breshad Perriman
Notable departures: OT Brandon Shell (Seahawks), WR Robby Anderson, WR Demaryius Thomas (unsigned), LB Brandon Copeland
2019 record: 7-9
Last matchup: Seahawks 27, Jets 17 – Week 4, 2016
What to know: The other New York team is also in a bit of a rough patch and haven’t made the playoffs since 2010. The franchise believes it has its quarterback in Sam Darnold, but is the talent around him so they can see if that’s the case?
Darnold missed three games in 2019 with mono, but when he was on the field he was under duress and was sacked 33 times in 13 games. His rookie season in 2018, Darnold was sacked 30 times. To improve this, the Jets spent big on former Seahawks lineman George Fant, giving him a three-year deal worth up to $30 million. Soon after, the Jets drafted tackle Mekhi Becton in the first round.
The Jets will need to develop playmakers around Darnold, especially after receiver Robby Anderson left in free agency. On the other side of the ball, New York was in the middle of the pack on defense. Not many changes were made there, so expect more of the same.
The Seahawks have, over the last few years, had a tough stretch of games in December, but starting the month with the two re-tooling New York teams could be a good way for Seattle to start the end of the year.
Week 15, Dec. 20: Seattle at Washington Redskins
Notable additions, re-signings and first-round picks: HC Ron Rivera, DE Chase Young (draft), OG Brandon Scherff (franchise tag), OG Wed Schweitzer, QB Kyle Allen (trade), CB Ronald Darby, RB Peyton Barber, CB Kendall Fuller, RB J.D. McKissic, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis
Notable departures: CB Quinton Dunbar (trade with Seahawks), QB Case Keenum, QB Colt McCoy, RB Chris Thompson, WR Paul Richardson (unsigned), TE Vernon Davis (retired), TE Jordan Reed (unsigned), OG Ereck Flowers, CB Josh Norman
2019 record: 3-13
Last matchup: Redskins 17, Seahawks 14 – Week 9, 2017
What to know: Ron Rivera was fired partway through the 2019 season by the Panthers, but it didn’t take him long to find a new home with Washington. Rivera turned Carolina into a perennial playoff team and the Redskins organization is hoping he can do the same thing there, especially as the team hasn’t made the playoffs since 2015.
Rivera’s Panthers teams played the Seahawks seemingly every year and the games were often low scoring affairs. While he may get the Redskins there at some point, it’s unlikely that’s in 2020, though the team does look to be improved, mainly on defense.
For starters, Washington selected defensive end Chase Young second overall. Young was considered the best overall prospect in the draft and one of the best prospects we’ve seen in quite some time. He joins a talented pass rush with Montez Sweat and veteran Ryan Kerrigan. The Seahawks have struggled to protect Russell Wilson, so this will be a tough test for Seattle’s offensive line, which will have at least three new starters this year.
Additionally, the secondary lost starting cornerback Quinton Dunbar to the Seahawks in a trade, but did add veteran Ronald Darby and Kendall Fuller.
The offense will be interesting to watch, as second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins will start again, but he could have a short leash as Rovera and his staff weren’t involved in drafting him. The Redskins did acquire Kyle Allen, who played for Rivera in Carolina, so there’s some familiarity at quarterback for the new head coach. If Haskins struggles, Rivera could turn to Allen and then set his sights on drafting a quarterback in 2021.
Week 16, Dec. 27: Seattle vs Los Angeles Rams
Last matchup in Seattle: Seahawks 30, Rams 29 – Week 5, 2019
What to know: When the Rams and Seahawks faced off in Seattle in 2019, it was one of the best games of the year on Thursday Night Football, going down to the final seconds with Seattle forcing an interception and Los Angeles missing a field goal with time winding down.
When the Rams come to town in 2020, the Seahawks could be fighting to clinch anything from a playoff berth to the NFC West to homefield advantage in the playoffs.
With it being so late in the year, injuries as well as teams’ records will be key to watch in order to determine playoff seeding and whatnot. Since Sean McVay took over the team in 2017, they’ve had the upper hand overall against the Seahawks, so maybe this could be the year Pete Carroll and company go 2-0 against McVay’s Rams. The Seahawks haven’t swept the Rams since 2013, when they were in St. Louis.
Week 17, Jan. 3: Seattle at 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 San Francisco: Seahawks 27, 49ers 24 (OT) – Week 10, 2019
What to know: This could, like last year, be a huge game that has a major impact on the NFC’s playoff picture.
In 2019, when the 49ers and Seahawks faced off in Week 17, the game was for the NFC West and the loser was the fifth seed. San Francisco won by mere inches and were the top seed in the conference while the Seahawks had to go on the road. This time, however, the Seahawks’ season will end on the road.
When the Seahawks played the 49ers on the road, Seattle won a nail-biter, taking the game 27-24 in overtime on a last-second Jason Myers field goal. That was after the 49ers tied the game late in regulation, Russell Wilson through an interception deep in San Francisco territory, and then the 49ers missed the game-winning kick.
Both of the games between these two were incredible to watch last year, and this season finale has a chance to be a wild one as well, especially if the division and top seeding is up for grabs. And looking at other Week 17 games for 2020, this one may be flexed to Sunday Night Football like last year’s game was as well.