Tag Archives: NFL Kickoff

Seahawks 2015 Schedule: Predicting the Primetime Matchups

20 Apr
Photo Credit: Fansided.com

Photo Credit: Fansided.com

Tomorrow night the NFL will release the 2015 regular season schedule. This is a day many fans and season ticket holders look forward to, as we will know when we play our opponents and when we may be heading on the road for away game road trips during the fall.

Any given team can be scheduled a maximum of five primetime games at the time of the schedule release and can earn one additional game flexed into primetime during the season. The Seahawks are the defending NFC Champions and will likely play at least four games in primetime this season. Usually a team who had that much success during the previous season would be a lock to have five games scheduled in primetime however as the defending Super Bowl champions last season, the Seahawks only played in four nationally televised games. This season I believe the Seahawks will be scheduled five primetime games. These are the matchups I predict will be shown under the lights on national television.

Cardinals at Seahawks

The San Francisco 49ers have faded into mediocrity and the Arizona Cardinals have emerged as the primary threat to dethrone the Seahawks as NFC West Champions. The Seahawks have played the Cardinals in primetime each of the last two seasons however both of those games were played in Arizona. The Seahawks have never hosted the Cardinals in primetime since moving to the NFC West in 2002 and this upcoming season may be the best opportunity for this matchup to happen on national television. I could see this game being played on either Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football, however I believe SNF is more likely.

Lions at Seahawks

If Detroit had defeated Dallas in last year’s Wild-Card playoff game the Lions would have come to Seattle to play the Seahawks in the Divisional round. The Cowboys won instead, and instead of the Lions coming to town the Seahawks hosted the Carolina Panthers. The Lions are one of four 2014 playoff teams to play the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in 2015. They are an up-and-coming team that I believe could challenge Green Bay for the NFC North crown this season. On top of the talent Detroit possesses on both sides of the ball, the homecoming of former Seahawks wide receiver Golden Tate is a storyline that would not go unnoticed in the days leading up to the game. I believe this game is best suited for Monday Night Football on ESPN.

Seahawks at Cowboys

Any Dallas Cowboys game is a candidate to be scheduled into primetime but let’s look at the resumes of both teams. Both the Seahawks and Cowboys won their divisions last season, they came one Dez Bryant non-catch away from meeting in the NFC Championship Game, and the Cowboys delivered the only blemish to Seattle’s home record in 2014, a 30-23 loss last October. Although they have lost key production on offense, specifically at running back, the Cowboys are primed to be a serious contender in 2015. If the Seahawks had not played on Thanksgiving last season I would think this game could definitely be worth scheduling as the afternoon matchup on turkey day. The reality is the NFL will not schedule a team on Thanksgiving back-to-back seasons on the road. NBC will likely get this matchup for one of the better Sunday Night Football matchups of the season.

Seahawks at Packers

This is another matchup that could be destined for Sunday Night Football even though it may be more appropriate on Monday Night Football. Think about the three matchups against Green Bay dating back to 2012: the Fail Mary, the Seahawks 20-point blowout win on NFL Kickoff 2014, and the miracle comeback in the NFC Championship Game three months ago. This is the Seahawks first trip to Green Bay in the regular season since 2009 and given the recent history between these two teams, it will certainly be a hostile environment for the Seahawks to handle. I would be stunned if this game is not scheduled in primetime. If it is not it will certainly be “America’s Game of the Week” on FOX in the 1:25pm time slot.

Seahawks at Rams

Only 6 teams do not get one of their games scheduled on Thursday Night Football each season. Any team’s odds of playing one game on TNF are high but the Seahawks chances are exceedingly high in 2015 given that they were one of the 6 teams who did not play on TNF last season (last year’s Thanksgiving game was an NBC game, not an NFL Network/CBS Thursday night game). 13 Thursday Night games in 2014 were division rivalries. I believe the Rams would be the most likely opponent for the Seahawks to play on Thursday Night Football.

Honorable Mention

Although I did not predict the following matchups to be scheduled in primetime, I think these three games also carry potential to be scheduled on national television instead of the games I listed: 49ers at Seahawks, Steelers at Seahawks, Seahawks at Ravens

Seahawks/Panthers Preview

7 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks at Carolina Panthers

Site: Bank of America Stadium (Charlotte, North Carolina)

Kickoff: 10:00am

The 38th season of Seahawks football kicks off Sunday as the Seahawks head to Charlotte to take on the Carolina Panthers. Seattle leads the all-time series against Carolina 4-2. These two teams last met last October. Thanks to an errant pass by Cam Newton on 4th and goal, the Seahawks escaped with a 16-12 victory to improve their record to 3-2. It is very important for the Seahawks, this season more than any other, to take each game one at a time. We cannot afford to start slow like against Arizona last season because these early season games could come back to cost you big time at the end of the season heading into the playoffs. Here are some keys to this week’s game.

Given the handful of injuries and Bruce Irvin’s four-game suspension, I am most interested to see what our starting defensive unit looks like this week. Specifically, I am curious to know who will start at the “Leo” defensive end position. Chris Clemons has been ruled out by Coach Pete Carroll this week. Cliff Avril has been nursing a hamstring injury but he has been practicing this week. His status for Sunday’s game is still up in the air. Michael Bennett is also nursing an injury to his toe. I expect Bennett to play this week but he will see snaps at defensive tackle for most of the game. If Avril is unable to play, the starting defensive end will be O’Brien Schofield. I would be more comfortable having Schofield start over rookie Benson Mayowa simply because he has prior starting experience. He started at outside linebacker on a good Arizona Cardinals defense last season. I am not sure if Mayowa is ready to be thrown into the starting rotation. Mayowa would be best used exclusively on passing downs. I believe using Mayowa at defensive end and Schofield at outside linebacker on third down would be the best pass rushing option if Avril is unavailable. If Avril is available, our third down pass rush package could consist of Mayowa on the other side of the line with Schofield at outside linebacker.

The number one key for the Seahawks offense this week is avoiding a slow start. Last season when we opened up the season at Arizona, many including myself believed that we could handle the Cardinals easily which would entail jumping out to a strong, early lead. Instead the Seahawks scored only 3 points in the first half and lost the game after scoring only 16 total points. Avoiding a slow start in essence means limiting the Panthers to build any kind of momentum. If the Seahawks can score a minimum of 14 points in the first half, I will consider us to be in good shape. A sub-key to achieving this goal will be to control the tempo of the game and win the time of possession battle. In a week one situation, you do not want to give Cam Newton and the Panthers offense time to move the ball. If Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch can be effective in the run game, it bodes well for the Seahawks to control the time of possession battle and to jump out to an early lead.

One more thing to keep an eye out for this week is Jermaine Kearse on special teams. It was announced on Monday that Jermaine Kearse would get the first crack at filling Leon Washington’s shoes as the Seahawks kick returner. Kearse’s one kick return in the preseason was returned for a touchdown. That one kickoff return earned him the chance to be the Seahawks kick returner to start the regular season.  I am interested to see what the rotation will be if Kearse struggles. I would not be surprised to see Golden Tate to get the next chance at returning kicks. Tate will return punts on Sunday.

Like last year against the Panthers, the player that the Seahawks defense should be most worried about is quarterback Cam Newton. I predicted a Seahawks loss in Carolina last season, based on the notion that I thought Cam Newton was going to go off, throwing for multiple touchdowns and rushing for a significant amount of yards. Although Newton did not play well last season, especially against the Seahawks, the potential remains there for him to break out at any time. If we were scheduled to play the Carolina Panthers later in the season, I would probably feel more confident in the Seahawks being able to beat them. In week one however, any outcome is possible regardless of who you we playing and where we are playing. The Seahawks defense must use their speed to slow Newton down and limit his running lanes if he is forced out of the pocket. If we are successful in taking Newton’s feet away we will definitely have a better chance to win. I am not expecting much out of our pass rush this week but if Newton can buy time and is going to scramble, the movement of our linebackers and secondary, not the defensive line, will be the key to our defense this week.

The Carolina Panthers have a very young, yet talented defense. Each level has one player that cannot go unnoticed this week. Along the defensive line is rookie Star Lotulelei. Star, the cousin of Seahawks linebacker John Lotulelei, was Carolina’s first round pick in the 2013 NFL Draft. Lotulelei showed a lot of physicality during the preseason and beat out former Seahawk Colin Cole and fellow rookie Kawann Short for the second defensive tackle job. Lotulelei will be effective in stuffing the run if he can beat the man across from him. I expect the Panthers to line Lotulelei up against right guard J.R. Sweezy. In the second level the Panthers boast the 2012 defensive rookie of the year, middle linebacker Luke Kuechly. Kuechly led the Panthers in tackles last year and he does a great job of getting to the play. I am looking to see how Kuechly handles the zone-read option. The Seahawks had not installed the zone-read option when these two teams played last season. If the Seahawks are effective in fooling Kuechly, it will bode well for us extending our drives and scoring points. The man to watch in Carolina’s secondary is cornerback Josh Thomas. Thomas lost his starting job in the middle of last season and with the release of veteran Drayton Florence at the end of the preseason, Thomas earned his starting job back for the start of this season. Expect Sidney Rice to line up against Thomas this week and I believe Russell Wilson will try to test Thomas early and often by throwing to Rice in the first half.

One of the things I felt was crucial during the playoffs last season was the Seahawks mindset that every game was a win-or-go-home playoff situation. I think it would benefit us tremendously if we come out and show the same sense of urgency against the Panthers. If we put playoff level effort and show playoff level urgency in every regular season game, we will be better off in the long run.

Random Thoughts: The Seahawks will wear blue jerseys this week. With a game time temperature expected to be in the high 80’s or low 90’s, the Seahawks will most likely wear either white pants or grey pants this week. The Seahawks wore the blue jersey/grey pants combo in Carolina last season… Chris Myers and Tim Ryan have the call for FOX this week. Sigh… Jeff Triplette is this week’s referee… This is the only game I’ll be watching from home in the first month of the season… I don’t like these 10am kickoffs. But it is the first week of the season so my adrenaline will be flowing all day Sunday… 2 games on NFL Red Zone in the afternoon: Packers/49ers and Cardinals/Rams. I get to watch and keep track of the entire NFC West this week and I’m pretty pumped about that… If anyone is interested in my television routine on a gameday where the Seahawks play on the road, here it is: NFL GameDay Morning on NFL Network from 6am-8am, ESPN Fantasy Now on ESPN2 from 8am-9am, FOX NFL Sunday from 9am-10am, the Seahawks game from 10am-1pm, NFL Red Zone from 1pm-4:30pm (the Seahawks game and Red Zone are flipped when the Seahawks play at 1pm), Football Night in America on NBC from 4:30pm-5:30pm, and Sunday Night Football following… Call me a fan or call me a fanatic… If the Seahawks lose and the 49ers win I am going to be pissed.

Prediction: A lot of my friends believe the Seahawks are going to blow out the Panthers. I think we will win but it will be a very close game. The Seahawks and Panthers will both get off to slow starts in the first half but the Seahawks ability to wear down the Panthers defense with long drives will be the difference. The Seahawks will score touchdowns; the Panthers will kick field goals. The Seahawks will head home 1-0 and will start preparation for a huge game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Seahawks 23, Panthers 16

Check back on Monday for my review of the Panthers game. Enjoy the weekend everybody. Welcome back football! Go Seahawks!

Seahawks/Cardinals Preview

7 Sep

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Matchup: Seattle Seahawks vs. Arizona Cardinals

Site: University of Phoenix Stadium (Glendale, Arizona)

Kickoff: 1:25pm

NFL Kickoff weekend is finally here! In week 1, the Seahawks travel to the Arizona desert to take on their division rivals, the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals lead the all-time series with the Seahawks 14-12. Their most recent matchup was a 23-20 Cardinals overtime win in week 17 last season. I will be in attendance in Arizona this weekend, as I am going on my annual Seahawks road trip. The Seahawks must get off to a hot start this season to avoid falling into a hole early like they did last season. Here is what I will be focusing on this weekend in Arizona.

If you predicted at the start of offseason activities that the starting quarterback matchup for this game would be Russell Wilson vs. John Skelton you need to go to Las Vegas or go buy a lottery ticket immediately. This is the most intriguing storyline of the game. Russell Wilson beat out Matt Flynn to be the Seahawks starting quarterback and John Skelton beat out $63 million man Kevin Kolb after Skelton led the Cardinals to a 5-2 record in their final 7 games last season and had a fairly better preseason performance than Kolb. I am very nervous about how Wilson handles the pressure being his first ever meaningful NFL start. I expect to see a considerable amount of scrambling and quarterback rushes on Sunday. All may not be productive but I can see Wilson breaking away from the Cardinals defense for a couple runs of at least 10-15 yards. John Skelton is the better option at quarterback for Arizona which is disappointing for me because we have a better chance to win if Kolb is the quarterback in my opinion. If Skelton has time to throw he can be dangerous. It will be huge for our defense if we can put immense pressure on Skelton all game long. All in all, I believe the Seahawks have the advantage at quarterback. Although Wilson is a rookie, he has shown unbelievable poise and has a demeanor that rivals very great quarterback in the league.

Earlier in the week news broke that Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch has been dealing with back spasms and is a question mark for Sunday’s game. Although Lynch is a big factor in our offensive gameplan, I believe Robert Turbin, Leon Washington, and even Kregg Lumpkin are fully capable of keeping our running attack afloat in Arizona. Lynch is a beast but when you have a solid offensive line leading the way, it doesn’t matter who is running the ball. Having said this, I expect to see Lynch play this weekend. On the subject of the offensive line, 7th round rookie J.R. Sweezy is slated to start at right guard this week. Sweezy, who hasn’t played on the offensive side of the ball since pee-wee football, starts in place of incumbent John Moffitt who has been recovering from elbow surgery. Although Moffitt is healthy, Coach Carroll explained that Sweezy has fully earned the opportunity to start because of how well he has picked up the techniques to play along the offensive line.

At wide receiver, the Seahawks will start Braylon Edwards at split end, and Sidney Rice at flanker. Golden Tate has a sprained knee and will not play this week. Doug Baldwin will be back in the slot after missing most of the preseason because of a hamstring procedure. I am excited to see how we use different receivers in different packages. My bold prediction of the game: expect Charly Martin to have at least three catches for 25+ yards.

On defense, Bruce Irvin has a good chance to record multiple sacks this weekend. The Cardinals offensive line is banged up and battered and may be the worst offensive line in the NFL. The Seahawks MUST take advantage of pass rush opportunities. Expect Irvin, Chris Clemons, and Jason Jones all to contribute. Even if we can force John Skelton into bad throws, we have a good chance to create turnovers.

Over the last 8 seasons, the one constant of Arizona Cardinals football has been all-pro wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald. What is amazing to me about Fitzgerald is he makes catches thrown from anybody. No matter how good or bad the Cardinals quarterback is, if the ball is thrown in Fitzgerald’s direction, he will most likely make the catch. In 2 games against the Seahawks last season, Fitzgerald had 14 catches for 213 yards and one touchdown. The secondary has to make sure we lock him down so he doesn’t break away. Although containing Fitzgerald is important, the Seahawks secondary has to make sure to also pay attention to Michael Floyd, the receiver lining up opposite Fitzgerald. Because the Seahawks have one of the best run defenses in the NFL, expect Skelton to throw early and often. A successful pass rush and the Seahawks defense taking advantage of Skelton’s mistakes will put us in a great position to win this game.

On defense, the Cardinals studs are defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Patrick Peterson. Along with these stars, I am also looking at the steady play of up-and-coming linebacker Daryl Washington. Washington was awarded a six-year contract extension this week, locking up what Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt described as potentially “one of the best linebackers in the conference.”

Random (Trip) Thoughts: My flight for Phoenix leaves Friday afternoon and I plan to head straight to In-N-Out Burger… Other stops tentatively scheduled during my weekend stay in Arizona are a tour of Chase Field (home of the Arizona Diamondbacks), Peoria Sports Complex (spring training home of the Seattle Mariners), and possibly a quick hike up Camelback Mountain. Apparently when you get to the top of the mountain, you get a breathtaking view of downtown Phoenix… I am staying at the Renaissance Hotel in Glendale. It is right next to the stadium. Check it out!…

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… My plan is to make a Russell Wilson poster for the game on Sunday. Since I am sitting in the lower bowl, there is a good chance I may get on T.V. If you are watching the game, be on the lookout for me!… I come back Monday evening just in time to watch the back half of Monday Night Football with my roommates… This will be my fourth trip to Arizona. I have not been back since 2002. I am excited to see what has changed in and around the city.

Prediction: Here is my history when seeing the Seahawks play on the road:

2007 (San Francisco) – Seahawks 23, 49ers 3

2009 (Indianapolis) – Colts 34, Seahawks 17

2010 (Denver) – Broncos 31, Seahawks 14

2011 (San Francisco) – 49ers 33, Seahawks 17

2011 (Dallas) – Cowboys 23, Seahawks 13

As a sports fan, there is no worse feeling than to sit at the airport or at the hotel after watching your team lose on the road. Months of planning and hundreds of dollars spent, only to see your team fail. I am absolutely SICK of this feeling. There is no reason why the Seahawks cannot win this game. Expect Russell Wilson to play well but make some mistakes. I believe the defense will be the ones to win this game for us. Like Coach Carroll always preaches, it’s all about the ball. If the Seahawks win the turnover battle, and I believe they will, they will be heading home 1-0. It has been 5 years since I have seen the Seahawks win on the road and I am telling you right now, I predict this personal losing streak will come to an end this weekend.

Seahawks 27, Cardinals 23

I will try to blog from my iPhone this weekend but my posts will be brief. It may be as basic as a picture or a random thought. I hope to have my review post done and published by late Monday night once I get home. If not, look for it on Tuesday afternoon. Thanks for reading everyone. It’s time to get back to football. Go Seahawks!