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The Seattle Seahawks’ 2019 regular season schedule has been released. We knew Seattle’s opponents months ago , but now we have the weeks, dates, kickoff times, etc. The road to Super Bowl 54 starts..."WhiteFanposts Fanshots Sections VideosCoffee and CigarettesGame AnalysisThe Numbers GameCigar Thoughts2019 Seahawks Schedule: Five storylines to watchNew,3commentsPDTShareTweetShareShare2019 Seahawks Schedule: Five storylines to watchSteven Bisig-USA TODAY SportsThe Seattle Seahawks’ 2019 regular season schedule has been released. We knew Seattle’s opponents months ago, but now we have the weeks, dates, kickoff times, etc. The road to Super Bowl 54 starts with a home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and the regular season concludes with a home showdown vs. the San Francisco 49ers. I’ve combed through the schedule and these are the games that, on paper, intrigue me the most not necessarily from a matchup standpoint, but because of the expected pre-game Pittsburgh Steelers (Week 2, 10 AM) - Can the Seahawks finally score a point at Heinz Field?This is a real thing, by the way. Heinz Field opened in 2001, and the Seahawks have played there twice before. They were shutout each time. In the 2007 season, a 3-1 Seattle squad racked up a pathetic 144 yards of total offense. Ben Roethlisberger went 18/22 for 206 yards and a touchdown, Willie Parker rushed for over 100 yards, and Najeh Davenport rushed for two scores en route to Pittsburgh’s 21-0 victory. This was also the final game of Mack Strong’s career after he suffered a neck injury that made it too dangerous for him to play again.Fast forward to 2011 and the Tarvaris Jackson-led offense only racked up 164 yards and an identical 8 first-downs to the 2007 team. Seattle had zero plays of 20+ yards while the defense was fortunate to only give up 24. Pittsburgh had well over 400 yards of offense and were in cruise control all the way.So forget actually winning in Pittsburgh, which will be a tough task given its a 10 AM game and Seattle has been a horrible September road team, let’s start with actually not getting blanked again, THEN focus on a Cleveland Browns (Week 6, 10 AM) - Russell vs. BakerLook, it’s not really Russell Wilson vs. Baker Mayfield. It’s Russell Wilson against the Cleveland Browns defense, and it’s Baker Mayfield against the Seattle Seahawks defense. This is still a potentially important early-season showdown for both teams.It took until 2018 to finally convince Pete Prisco that Russell is a great quarterback, and he was sensational. Mayfield was heavily hyped out of college after winning the Heisman Trophy in Oklahoma, and his slight stature led to Wilson comparisons pre-draft. Baker became the full-time starter for Cleveland in Week 3, and helped lead the team to a 7-8-1 record, all while breaking Wilson’s rookie record for touchdown passes in a season. Add in the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr, the hiring of head coach Freddie Kitchens, and there’s reason for optimism that Cleveland may be a playoff-caliber team in 2019.Of course, I’m not looking forward to the “Wilson or Mayfield - Which QB would you rather have?” debates that will likely ensue very soon, but it’d sure be grand if Russ could outduel Mayfield even though the Browns have a formidable defense that now boasts Olivier Vernon and Sheldon Richardson. Oh yes, and the last Seahawks at Browns game was one of the worst sporting events I’ve ever witnessed. Let’s hope nothing happens from now until October 13th that we don’t have a Charlie Whitehurst vs. Colt McCoy equivalent.vs. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Week 9, 1:05 PM) - The Sheriff returns to townBruce Arians was a thorn in the side of the Seahawks throughout his tenure as Arizona Cardinals head coach. Sure, Arians won zero games at home against Seattle in five seasons, making him as good a Sheriff as Barney Fife, but he also went 4-1 at CenturyLink Field. He’s responsible for Russell Wilson’s first career home defeat, and it’s fitting his final game as Cardinals head coach was a win at Seattle.Arians’ “retirement” lasted one season as he bored everyone to death commentating for the NFL on CBS. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers job opened up and he took it, so he’ll be tasked with sending the Bucs to the postseason for the first time since 2007.Another side story to this is the fact that Tampa Bay has only played Seattle twice in the Wilson era and they’ve yet to trail in regulation play. They were famously up 21-0 in the 2013 season as an 0-8 side Womens Tyler Lockett Jersey , only to lose 27-24 in overtime. In 2016 down in Florida, the Seahawks fell behind 14-0 in the opening quarter, didn’t give up another point, but only managed 5 points the rest of the way. It was the first time that a Wilson-led team failed to be within one-score in the 4th quarter of a game.vs. Los Angeles Rams (Week 5, 5:20 PM) - A rivalry renewed in primetimeBoth Seahawks vs. Rams games are slated for national TV. The one at home is on Thursday night, while the rematch in Los Angeles is set for December 8th on Sunday Night Football and is subject to flex scheduling. LA has taken the last three from Seattle, or one for each point they scored in Super Bowl 53. Sean McVay’s bunch wrecked the Seahawks in December 2017 in what may have looked like a serious changing of the guard. While the Rams did comfortably win the NFC West in 2018, things could’ve been very different if the Seahawks had gotten both games last season. They had the lead in the 4th quarters of those two meetings, scored 31 against that vaunted Rams defensive unit twice over, but lost by a combined seven points. Seattle hung toe-to-toe with the NFC’s top team and had a level of offensive productivity that we’ve not seen against the Rams in years past.What makes the Week 5 - 2019 matchup a bit different — again, barring anything drastic happening from now until gameday — is that this is the first time that the Rams-Seahawks rivalry has reached primetime status in the Sean McVay era. Seattle is known for its exceptional home record in night games, going 26-6 (playoffs included) since CenturyLink Field opened in 2002. Under Russell Wilson, that mark is 16-2. Over the years, the Seahawks have beaten eventual Super Bowl participants (2012 San Francisco 49ers) and Super Bowl champions (2017 Philadelphia Eagles) under the bright lights. I doubt Seattle is going to roll over and let the Rams win a third straight time at CLink.vs. Baltimore Ravens (October 20th, 1:25 PM PT) - Earl Thomas returnsI truly hope that Earl Thomas gets a standing ovation and a loud applause when he’s on the field as a member of the Baltimore Ravens. The end of his time with Seattle may have been ugly, but he never took it out on the fans, and is one of the greatest Seahawks of all-time. If there was indifference with regards to more outsized personalities like Richard Sherman or Michael Bennett, for Thomas it was largely a matter of getting paid what he feel he’s worth.As for the game itself, Baltimore was 3rd in DVOA on defense last year. They lost C.J. Mosley and Terrell Suggs, as well as Za’Darius Smith. Earl is essentially replacing Eric Weddle, and the Ravens have done an excellent job maintaining at least an above-average defensive group for an extremely long period of time. Their offense is now Lamar Jackson’s, so the Seahawks will contend with the athleticism of Jackson, and potentially improved passing abilities.Of course, I imagine many will want to see if Wilson will dare test Earl Thomas in the deep middle of the field. I have my doubts, but it should be a fascinating chess match nevertheless. Considering the expectations before the season started, maybe the Seattle Seahawks didn’t need to be so critical of their final regular-season performance before returning to the playoffs.One of the major accomplishments in Seattle’s 10-win season was re-establishing team standards for achieving success. And while that wasn’t always evident in the win over Arizona, the Seahawks did get a clearer idea of where they need to be better facing Dallas in the NFC wild-card game Saturday.“It was good for us to be able to go through something like this in the last game in the season, especially against a divisional opponent before we go into the playoffs,” wide receiver Tyler Lockett said. “You never know what’s going to happen. All you can do is go in prepared, but nobody can be able to prepare for something that is going to happen like this.”The finale against the Cardinals was sloppy and underwhelming, but perhaps it was to be expected. Seattle’s playoff spot was already wrapped up. They clinched the No. 5 seed and a date with the Cowboys without needing the victory thanks to Minnesota’s loss. As veteran wide receiver Doug Baldwin noted, human nature has a tendency to take over at some point.But there were other reasons the victory was so unsightly.鈥?The offensive line saw significant shuffling due to injuries to guards D.J. Fluker and J.R. Sweezy and that led to some communication breakdowns that allowed quarterback Russell Wilson to get hit often. Wilson was sacked six times 鈥?the most since Week 2 against Chicago 鈥?after only being sacked 16 times in the previous six games.鈥?Seattle’s punt team allowed two blocked kicks. One was partially deflected and only went 21 yards, while the other was swatted and recovered for an Arizona touchdown. It was the first punt block for a score against the Seahawks since 2014. Coach Pete Carroll said during his weekly radio show on KIRO-AM on Monday morning that his special teams group asked to have a separate meeting prior to the full team meeting to go over the issues.鈥?And the Seahawks revisited familiar territory since Arizona regularly gives Seattle trouble. Arizona had won three straight in Seattle and five of the previous six games between the teams have been decided by six points or less. The other finished in a 6-6 tie.“They’re not going to let you walk out of the game with an easy game. No matter what the record depicts,” Seattle defensive end Frank Clark said. “That’s history between everybody. Every time we play Arizona it’s always a battle. We go there and they come here, it’s always a tight one.”Seattle believes at least one of those problems from Sunday should be resolved with the expected return of Fluker against the Cowboys.Fluker could have played against Arizona but was a spectator as Seattle moved Germain Ifedi to guard and played George Fant at tackle. Fluker’s return would allow Ifedi to move back to tackle and Fant to return to his role as an extra tight end.There is less optimism about Sweezy. Carroll said he received a “good report” about Sweezy’s recovery from a sprained foot but it will likely be a game-time decision on whether he can play.Seattle also has concerns in the secondary with safety Tedric Thompson and cornerback Shaquill Griffin both dealing with ankle injuries.Thompson missed his second straight game Sunday 鈥?he missed Week 16 with a chest injury then had an ankle injury. Griffin twisted his right ankle in the first half against Arizona and never returned.Carroll said while Griffin seemed fine after the game, the early report Monday was that his ankle was stiff.Akeem King saw extensive snaps with Griffin out against Arizona, while Delano Hill has stepped in at strong safety with Bradley McDougald at free safety due to Thompson’s absence.“He’s still young and some plays get away from him but his toughness and aggression and style, and he’s always been a great tackler,” Carroll said of Hill.
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