With the enormous are-we-playing-this-year-or-aren’t-we elephant in the room, the NFL released its 2011 schedule today. A lifelong fan of the Seattle Seahawks, I immediately checked to see who’s on tap for the ‘Hawks this year.
While I was at it, I formed some preliminary opinions on how things will shake out for Seattle, with the level of precision that you’d expect from a pre-draft guesstimation made five months before the season is scheduled to begin.
Here’s how the schedule looks:
* Division Games *
San Francisco 49ers (6-10 last year)
Away on Sept. 11
Home on Dec. 24 (Saturday)
We split with these guys in 2010 (and 2009 and 2008), thumping them at home, and then having them return the thumping in San Fran. We begin our season as the inaugural opponent for new head coach Jim Harbaugh, and the Niners are something of a mess right now. Harbaugh has a long history of coaching success in California, though–at the University of San Diego and most recently at Stanford–and he’ll have several months to get his crew fired up for the season opener. He’s a phenomenal motivator. I predict that the 49ers clip the Seahawks in September, but we steal their Christmas at home in December.
Arizona Cardinals (5-11)
Home on Sept. 25
Away on Jan. 1
We handily swept the Cardinals last season. They have superstar WR Larry Fitzgerald, but do they have anyone to throw to him? Derek Anderson? John Skelton? Neil Lomax? Bueller? Bueller? I’ve read chatter that the Cards may take Missouri QB Blaine Gabbert if he’s still available in the #5 spot in the NFL Draft, but rookie quarterbacks generally don’t fare well in their first seasons, much less in the third game of their first season during the ‘Hawks’ home opener at Qwest Field with 70 million decibels of pain raining down from the 12th Man. I envision a season sweep here.
St. Louis Rams (7-9)
Away on Nov. 20
Home on Dec. 12 (Monday Night Football, baby!)
The Rams are a team on the rise, and we had a rough time at Edward Jones Dome last season. Seahawks fans certainly recall the Week 17 slugfest, though, to end last year’s regular season–a Seattle victory that brought the 2010 NFC West Division Champions banner to the Pacific Northwest. Games against the Rams usually border on nasty, and they’re probably still a little ticked about how their season ended. We get them twice in four weeks, including our first Monday Night Football game since 2007. Rams QB Sam Bradford seems pretty good, RB Steven Jackson is a beast, and their defense is improving. I’m afraid they’ll get us again in St. Louie, but the MNF atmosphere in Seattle is going to be deafening. We win at home for the season split.
* Other Games *
Pittsburgh Steelers (12-4, AFC Champions)
Away on Sept. 18
Um, loss. Need we discuss this any further?
Atlanta Falcons (13-3, NFC South Champions)
Home on Oct. 2
They spanked us at home last season, 34-18. They’re really good. I’m a little scared. We’ll be looking at a 1-3 record after the first month of play.
New York Giants (10-6)
Away on Oct. 9
They demolished us in the Meadowlands last season, 41-7, and the Seahawks routinely play horribly on the East Coast. We don’t show any signs of reversing our fortune in this one. Seattle drops to 1-4 on the season. ‘Hawks fans everywhere start hyperventilating. Thank goodness the bye week comes after this game.
Cleveland Browns (5-11)
Away on Oct. 23
True, we’re not a good road team, but this is the Cleveland Browns we’re talking about here. The Cleveland Browns. We get our second win of the year.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-12)
Home on Oct. 30
The worst of the two Ohio teams comes to town. I’m already drooling. We’re up to 3-4 after this one.
Dallas Cowboys (6-10)
Away on Nov. 6
Gosh, do you think the Fox announcers going to rehash the famous Tony Romo bobbled hold on the field goal attempt in the 2007 playoff game against Seattle? You know they’re going to give that dead horse several more beatings for this game. Ugh. The Cowboys probably beat us in this one, too. Double ugh.
Baltimore Ravens (12-4)
Home on Nov. 13
Isn’t Ray Lewis about 100 years old by now?! He’s been in the league forever, and he still hits like a Mack truck! Maybe he’ll miss the flight. Maybe the Ravens will have jet lag by the time they get all the way to Seattle. Probably not. The season record stands at 3-6 now.
Washington Indigenous Americans (6-10)
Home on Nov. 27
The IA’s are a welcome site at Qwest Field after a loss in St. Louis the week before drops us to 3-7. Wouldn’t it have been cool if Jim Zorn still coached the IA’s? Imagine the welcome he’d receive from the Seattle faithful. Instead, Mike Shanahan is coming to town. Boooooooo! We win and improve to 4-7.
Philadelphia Eagles (10-6, NFC East Champions)
Home on Dec. 1 (Thursday night on NFL Network)
The first of two consecutive nationally televised games at Qwest Field! Woo hoo! You know, normally I’d predict a loss here, but it’s a home game on a Thursday night, and all the world will be watching (well, at least those who have cable and a sports package). This is also about the time of year when the Eagles start choking. I’ll go out on a limb and predict that we are the more successful birds this week (maybe I’ll Tweet it, too), and now we’re 5-8.
Chicago Bears (11-5, NFC North Champions)
Away on Dec. 18
After beating the Rams on MNF the week before, we’re up to 6-8. We made two trips to the Windy City last season, pulling off the upset early in the year, only to have the Bears end our season in the playoffs. This one will come down to whether or not Bears QB Jay Cutler feels like playing. If he’s healthy and on his game, this could get ugly for us. But if he has another one of those debilitating hangnails or eyelashes in his eye, we might pull this one out. I’m going to predict that he reads my mockery of him, though (I’m planning on being a world famous writer by mid-December, you know), gets mad, and takes it out on the Seahawks. We drop to 5-9. An angry mob shows up on my doorstep shortly thereafter.
Fortunately, we close out the season with a home game against the 49ers and a road game against the Cardinals. 7-9, baby! And you know what that means! Division champions again!
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