Thursday night the Seattle Seahawks will host the Arizona Cardinals in a divisional matchup with first place in the NFC West on the line. Whichever team wins will take over sole possession of first place in the division for at least a few days, pending the outcome of the Monday Night Football showdown between the Los Angeles Rams and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For both teams the game will be the first matchup against an opponent the team has previously played within the same season, something which has given the Seahawks trouble in recent years. Since the current coaching staff was assembled in 2018, Seattle has tended to easily handle teams they play the first time around during a season before struggling against the opponent the second time they face off. Here is a full list of how those matchups played out over the past two years.
- Dallas Cowboys: Week 3 - 24-13 win; Wild Card - 22-24 loss
- Arizona Cardinals: Week 4 - 20-17 win; Week 17 - 27-24 win
- Los Angeles Rams: Week 5 - 31-33 loss; Week 10 - 31-36 loss
- San Francisco 49ers: Week 13 - 43-16 win; Week 15 - 23-26 loss
- Arizona Cardinals: Week 4 - 27-10 win; Week 16 - 13-27 loss
- Los Angeles Rams: Week 5 - 30-29 win; Week 14 - 12-28 loss
- San Francisco 49ers: Week 10 - 27-24 win; Week 17 - 26-21 loss
- Philadelphia Eagles: Week 12 - 17 - 9 win; Wild Card - 17-9 win
Putting that all together for the two seasons, and the Seahawks are 7-1 the first time they play an opponent during a season and just 2-6 the second time around. That is a full season of sixteen games worth of results that might show that the Hawks are less likely to win when they plan an opponent the second time around, which makes the Week 11 game against the Cardinals even more important. Specifically, while Seattle has what should be an easy four game stretch of the schedule coming up after Arizona, the season is set to close out with games against the 49ers and Rams, teams they have already faced this season.
Of course, so far in 2020 the trend has not held, as the team has dropped two of the three games it played against its division opponents so far. So, hopefully the results from prior years were little more than randomness in a relatively small 16 game sample, but if it holds and they have trouble with the Cardinals, Rams and 49ers the second time around, it could be a long second half of the season.