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New rule for 2020 could force the Seahawks to adjust travel plans

NFL: Seattle Seahawks at Atlanta Falcons Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

For years, 10 a.m. PST kickoffs were seen as automatic losses for the Seahawks. The team struggled mightily in that time slot, all too often coming out flat and getting beaten handily.

Recently, however, that fortune has changed. Seattle’s Week 15 victory against the Panthers last season was their eighth straight win in early starts on the East Coast—their last loss occurred back on October 30, 2016, in New Orleans.

In 2020, the Seahawks will have the chance to extend that winning streak to 12 games, with 10 a.m. PST starts scheduled against the Falcons, Dolphins, Bills, and Washington. Those four games could become even more difficult for Seattle, with the NFL introducing a new rule for the 2020 season that is set to happen under the cloud of the coronavirus.

Peter King explained the new rule in his column, Football Morning In America:

The NFL is also likely to put a rule in for this year that no team can travel two days ahead of a scheduled game. Seattle and San Francisco would travel on Friday to an Eastern Time game; some East Coast teams do the same in reverse. This year, the Seahawks have five games at teams in Eastern Time—four at the dreaded 10 a.m. PT bodyclock time, 1 p.m. ET.

The way it looks to me is players will take their final COVID tests of the week on Friday morning. So the Seahawks—it takes their tests about 24 hours to return—could have two disadvantages here if the NFL rules teams can’t travel on Fridays. They might not know if a player or players will be kept back from the trip till, say, 9 a.m. on Saturday, as the team is prepping to leave Seattle. And, of course, taking a five-hour flight, getting into the hotel at 7 or 8 p.m. local time, and playing the next day at 1 p.m. is certainly not what the Seahawks are used to doing.

The new rule, as King detailed, would be disadvantageous to the Seahawks for a pair of reasons. The obvious one is the delayed travel, leaving Saturday instead of Friday. Arriving for a game so close to kickoff, with no opportunity for your bodyclock to adjust, will be brutal.

Equally as brutal, though, is the last-second adjustments that could be caused. The possibility that Seattle could find out, roughly 24 hours before a game, that they’ll be without a starter or even the majority of a given position group, is absolutely wild to imagine.

The reality of attempting to conduct a season amid a pandemic will lead to adjustments and difficulties for everyone involved, no doubt. Unfortunately for the Seahawks, one of the many changes the league will have to make will lead to a quarter of their schedule becoming even more difficult than it already was.