The 2014 NFL preseason is now in the Seattle Seahawks‘ rear-view mirror, and it’s time to start looking forward to the regular season. Looking ahead, Seattle will certainly have to run the gauntlet to get back to the playoffs. As if it isn’t difficult enough playing six games a year against NFC West opponents, the Seahawks will also have a much-anticipated Super Bowl rematch against Denver Broncos and an early Week 4 bye week to overcome.
Yet despite the odds being stacked against them, the defending Super Bowl Champions appear hungrier than ever heading into the 2014 regular season.
This past offseason has been relatively worry free for head coach Pete Carroll and GM John Schneider. It was evident that they had a plan in place for retaining the core of their team, and they executed that plan to perfection. Franchise players like FS Earl Thomas, CB Richard Sherman and WR Doug Baldwin were all signed to long-term extensions, as was pass rusher Michael Bennett.
Additionally, Seattle was able to ease the losses of former defenders Chris Clemons and Red Bryant, as well as receiver Golden Tate, by once again working the NFL Draft to their own liking. Then, when the dust settled on the 2014 NFL preseason, the Seahawks once again looked like a team on the cusp of greatness. Let’s take a look at their potential journey to the playoffs this season.
For one, it won’t start easy. As is customary for Super Bowl Champions, Seattle will open the 2014 regular season on Thursday Night Football against the Green Bay Packers. Of course, most fans will remember this as the epic “Fail Mary” rematch and will likely be billed as such. Regardless, these are not the same two teams, and this should be a good matchup to get the juices flowing for what should be a spectacular season.
Seattle will then follow that up with a road trip to take on a very capable San Diego Chargers team, just to come home for perhaps the most hyped game of the early year: the Super Bowl rematch. That’s right, mark your calendars for Week 3, as Peyton Manning and the Broncos will come to town looking to redeem themselves from the embarrassing performance they were able to muster just months ago in Super Bowl XLVIII.
With all the excitement of the first three weeks of the regular season in Seattle, perhaps it’s a good thing they were awarded a Week 4 bye this year. After all, that’s a tough start for any team.
Coming out of their bye, the Seahawks will have intriguing matchups including on the road against the Washington Redskins and Robert Griffin III in Week 5, as well as their first divisional matchup on the road against the St. Louis Rams in Week 7. Both should be winnable games, particularly with the Rams losing Sam Bradford this preseason, but will nonetheless be a solid test of their road mentality.
Seattle’s true test, however, will come down the stretch starting Week 11 on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. With Week’s 12-17 bringing five different divisional matchups, their game against the Chiefs could easily turn into a trap game. Plus, they will have NFL All-Pro running back Jamaal Charles to contend with, which should be a great test for the Seahawks’ defensive line and linebackers.
After Kansas City comes the games we wait all season for — two games against the San Francisco 49ers in three weeks. As a fan of both watching football and playing fantasy football, most Americans thoroughly appreciate the league’s decision to move division games to the end of the season to keep things interesting, and never are they more interesting than in the NFC West.
With games against the 49ers in Weeks 13 and 15, as well as games against the Arizona Cardinals in Weeks 12 and 16, the defending champs will certainly have their hands full.
Overall, it definitely looks as though the defending Super Bowl Champs are primed for another playoff run. The front office has done an amazing job of re-signing key players and restocking the shelves. Their ability to identify talent that fits their scheme is what currently makes them the class of the league, as my projected record for them indicates.
2014 Prediction: 12-4 (4-2 in division)