After six games, the Seattle Seahawks sit at 4-2, and only one NFL team has fewer losses (it’s the 5-1 Philadephia Eagles, who play on Monday). While Seattle’s record might not be good enough for first in the division — the Los Angeles Rams own a half-game lead — the schedule is about to shift into a favorable gear.
Four of their six games have been on the road, against two current division leaders and an Aaron Rodgers-led Packers team. Three trips have taken the Seahawks halfway across the country, or farther. All that changes, starting now.
Week 8: the Houston Texans visit;
Week 9: the “other Washington” team rolls into town;
Week 10: the Seahawks visit the Carson Palmer-less Arizona Cardinals, who were shut out on Sunday in London (Palmer broke his arm and will miss something in the neighborhood of eight weeks.);
Week 11: the Atlanta Falcons, a .500 team, show up for Monday night.
Should the Seahawks go ahead and parlay their next quarter of the season into three more wins, they’ll improve to 7-3. Historically, being 7-3 is a favorable position indeed, if making the playoffs is the goal. A graphic I’ve used before, concocted by fivethirtyeight.com, proves it.
We’d take 84 percent playoff odds, right? Along with a tie-breaker in hand, to hold over the Rams’ horned little heads. Incidentally, a pretty 7-3 mark would also best Seattle’s record after 10 games from 2012, 2014, and 2015. Last year’s team went 7-2-1 before uncharacteristically faltering down the stretch.
Another detail is that as of today, Seattle’s travel eases up. They will play all their games on the West Coast until December 10, when a 10 a.m. date at the Jacksonville Jaguars looms.
From the Seahawks’ perspective, a few home games will come in handy as the opposition heats up.
Seattle opponents, by DVOA ranking
Weeks 1-7: 18, 19, 26, 31, 4, 25 (five in the bottom half, only one top 10)
Weeks 8-11: 5, 6, 27, 17 (only two in the bottom half, two top 10)
As far as opposing quarterbacks are concerned, the Seahawks also will receive the third-highest passer (by QB rating) in Kirk Cousins and the fifth-highest in Deshaun Watson. Oh, and Matt Ryan too, who is mostly good and occasionally great.
Watson figures to be a handful. The dynamic rookie* is on pace to shatter... Russell Wilson’s record for most touchdown passes in a first season. He’s thrown for 15, putting him on pace for 40 TD. Wilson (and Peyton Manning) had 26. Watson has also scored twice on the ground but is just 26th in total passing yards. Remind you of anyone?
*NFL regulations require to designate Watson thusly
The Seahawks’ uneven home performances against doormats San Francisco and Indianapolis, in which they trailed twice at halftime [edit: “in which they failed to lead at halftime either week”] doesn’t mean we can mark up Weeks 8, 9 and 11 as automatic victories. But Seattle’s 36-6 home record and 533-point home differential since 2012 — both best in the league — afford some optimism looking forward. If you’re inclined to take it more than one week at a time.