October 22, 2013 in Sports

Hawks’ schedule has gone from daunting to favorable

Bob Condotta Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

The St. Louis Rams will be forced to face Seattle in an NFC West showdown on Monday night without QB Sam Bradford.
(Full-size photo)

On Friday, after beating Arizona the night before, the Seahawks were listed as six-point favorites for their game Monday night at St. Louis.

By Monday afternoon, that spread had grown to 10 1/2 points.

The Rams lost quarterback Sam Bradford for the year to a knee injury Sunday and were soundly defeated at Carolina, a once-promising season suddenly appearing headed off the rails.

That sequence of events illustrates the dangers in looking too far ahead in the NFL, where a team’s health and fortunes can change drastically from week to week.

Still, as Seattle begins practice for its first of two Monday night games this season, the schedule suddenly appears about as favorable as can be.

The Seahawks, 6-1 after Thursday’s 34-22 win at Arizona, have nine games left against foes that have a combined record of 22-35 as of Sunday’s games.

That’s softer, if just by a little bit, than the 21-27 current combined record of the seven teams Seattle has played.

And it’s nowhere near as daunting as the homestretch of games appeared in the offseason.

In fact, those same nine foes were 76-67-2 in 2012 – yet another illustration of the pitfalls of trying to judge schedules in advance.

Seattle’s entire slate of 2013 foes went 130-122-4 in 2012, which had the Seahawks’ strength of schedule for this season generally judged among the top 10.

But as of Sunday, Seattle’s 2013 opponents had a combined record of 43-62 this season. According to SBNation, that .410 winning percentage ranks as the worst combined opponent mark for any team in the NFL.

Or put another way, it means Seattle is in the midst of playing what could end up being one of the easiest schedules in the NFL this season.

That drop-off is due in large part to the underachievement of three teams that had winning records a year ago and are instead huge underachievers this season – the New York Giants (1-6), Atlanta (2-4) and Minnesota (1-5).

Throw in the implosion of Tampa Bay – 7-9 a year ago but 0-6 and mired in controversy this season – and the schedule has a far brighter tint for Seattle now than it did even six weeks ago.

In fact, Seattle has just two games remaining against teams that currently have winning records – the home date with the New Orleans Saints (5-1) on Dec. 2, and a visit to San Francisco (5-2) on Dec. 8.

Jay Kornegay, the sportsbook director for the Las Vegas Hilton, says the only game left in which the Seahawks would currently be listed as underdogs is the game at San Francisco.

Right now, San Francisco is listed as a three-point favorite in that game, one of the future contests the sports book has a listed line for as one of its NFL “games of the year.’’

“They would be a favorite in every other game,’’ Kornegay said.

Kornegay said the two other tightest spreads for Seattle would be the game at Atlanta – the Seahawks are currently a four-point favorite in that one – and the Saints (favored by 3 1/2).

And if the Seahawks are able to play to the expectations of the point spread, they’d finish 14-2, which would be the best record in franchise history (the 2005 team went 13-3) and assuming a win over the Saints, assure no worse than a tie for the best record in the NFC (we’ll worry later about three-way tiebreaker ramifications, etc.).

Anything more would put Seattle into rarefied air. Only five teams in NFL history have gone 15-1 since the expansion to a 16-game schedule in 1978 – the 1984 49ers, 1985 Bears, 1998 Vikings, 2004 Steelers and 2011 Packers. Only one has done better – the 2007 Patriots, who went 16-0.

DateOpponentComment
Mondayat St. LouisWill be first game for Rams without QB Sam Bradford
Nov. 3vs. Tampa BayBucs have been NFL’s biggest soap opera this season
Nov. 10at AtlantaFalcons a huge disappointment so far at 2-4
Nov. 17vs. MinnesotaVikings have Adrian Peterson but messy QB situation
Dec. 2vs. New OrleansSaints looming as a legit Super Bowl contender
Dec. 8at San Francsico49ers appear to be returning to expected form
Dec. 15at N.Y. GiantsNo real hope left for Giants this season
Dec. 22vs. ArizonaSeahawks showed how far away Cardinals remain
Dec. 29vs. St. LouisRams may be far out of it by this point, if not already

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