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Seahawks almost had the worst schedule

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As much as we like to gripe about it, the NFL schedule is an enormously complex beast, and easier to get wrong than right.

Win McNamee

Peter King offers a piece offering unique insight into the NFL schedule making staff and process. This is not something that is immediately of obvious interest to NFL fans but there's some insight to be gained there which puts the problems of any schedule in perspective. Particularly, one of the almost-accepted schedules had this for the Hawks:

There almost was one. Before I tell you about the schedule that won the beauty contest, let me tell you about the schedule that finished in second place. If that one had won, the Seattle Seahawks would have been steamed.

The runner-up schedule had two major Seattle glitches that NFL hates to hand teams: a three-game road trip, and a road game after a Monday night road game. And they would have happened in the same three-game stretch. In mid-season, Seattle would have played at St. Louis on a Sunday, at Washington on a Monday night, and at Kansas City on a Sunday.

Anyplace east of Spokane is far from Seattle, obviously. But this schedule would have been a killer. First a 1,787-mile flight to St. Louis, and back after the game. Then a 2,311-mile flight to Baltimore-Washington Airport, and back after the game. Then a 1,407-mile flight to Kansas City, and back after the game. That’s 11,010 air miles in 15 days … unless, of course, the Seahawks spent a week in the Midwest or East to minimize one of the back-and-forths. Commissioner Roger Goodell is the final approver-in-chief of the schedule, and I wondered whether he’d have approved one that had the Super Bowl champion with such a brutal 15-day stretch.

"Would you have played that schedule?" I asked Katz.

"Yeah, I think so," he said. "We didn’t want to. We were hopeful that we’d find a better one. I think we would have, and we did. If we had to play it, I think we would have had an interesting discussion with Roger about it. We had many interesting discussions in this room about it—whether it was a fatal flaw or not. I didn’t deem it fatal, but we were hoping we could find a way out of it."

Had that schedule come about, we would have been rife with conspiracy theories now on the NFL looking to cripple the Seahawks. And it is presented as being a legit option, the reason for which becomes more obvious when you read on and find out how complex it is to undo a crippling schedule for one team like that without making things even worse for another team. But am I glad they got out of that one, and the worst thing we have to complain about boils down to "man our bye week is really early." A legit complaint, but there's always some teams that have to have an early bye, and if that's the worst you have then you're pretty good (my fellow writers will have more pieces on the schedule later, we hope).

Also apropos to the Seahawks, some of us had speculated on this and yes, the fact that Denver-Seattle is not the opener points to the NFL deeming it a high risk that the outcome would not be too different from the Super Bowl, which is a reasonable assumption.

The league obviously thought a Denver-Seattle opener was risky—based on the outcome of the Super Bowl. Those are my words, not theirs. "We thought there were three likely possibilities for the opener: San Francisco, Denver and Green Bay," Katz said. "I guess we could’ve played Dallas, but we really liked Dallas for the FOX doubleheader for Week 1. Dallas also had Texas Rangers conflicts the first month of the season. Putting them on the road in Week 1 might have doomed them for four or five road games in the first few weeks. I thought we had a better place to use the San Francisco-Seattle game, because it has become such an incredibly great rivalry game. It seemed to us that saving that game for later in the season on NBC was probably a smarter move. Green Bay felt right." The move also left Peyton Manning to kick off the Sunday night season with the Broncos. Against Andrew Luck and his old friends, the Colts

On topic of openers: Seahawks open as 5-point favorites hosting the Packers.