Seahawks Schedule: What to expect from Seattle's primetime slate
Seattle should be a primetime draw again: Seaside Joe 1523
Seaside Joe did a 2023 Seahawks schedule check-in a few weeks ago, not to predict Seattle’s final record but only to remind fans of who to expect and also to take a breath away from constant draft coverage. Now that the 2023 NFL Draft is complete, we can get back to looking at the actual Seahawks roster, coaching staff, and starting next week, the 2023 schedule.
The NFL will release the schedule on May 11th and I expect the Seattle Seahawks to be one of the most heavily-featured NFC teams in primetime this year…Whether the NFL likes it or not.
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What should Seahawks fans expect to see during next week’s schedule release?
The 2022 Seahawks
Entering the season with low expectations, the NFL only “allowed” the Seahawks to be featured in two primetime games and the only one that we actually wanted to see—Week 1 against the Denver Broncos—had more to do with the quarterback on the other team than with Geno Smith.
Seattle was also bestowed a Week 15 game on Thursday Night Football against the San Francisco 49ers, but every team is featured on TNF at least once. That can now happen twice per season and we’re hoping that the Seahawks don’t find themselves in that position.
The NFL thought that once ‘Russell Wilson vs. Pete Carroll’ was over that they could just put Seattle in the glovebox and forget about them until 18 months later during a road trip someone opens it and goes, “I forget we have trail mix in here???”.
Not so, as the Seahawks played their way into being a wild card game and were only robbed of a primetime game in Week 18 (in which they had to win to stay alive for the playoffs) because the L.A. Rams—not the Seattle Seahawks—were such a bad team.
Last season, Geno Smith wasn’t a draw. Now he’s kind of a draw. Especially relative to other NFC quarterbacks and even more so when you consider the health and injury risks associated with some of the top names besides Geno. Add in Pete, two first round picks, a double-positive running back duo, DK/Tyler, the return of Bobby Wagner, and the Seahawks now starting to build momentum as favorites in the NFC West, the stars seem to be aligning for a much greater presence on the NFL’s primetime schedule.
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Points in the 2023 Seahawks’ favor
Who are the eight-biggest draws in the NFC at quarterback? Let’s take injuries out of it for now: Jalen Hurts, Justin Fields, Matthew Stafford, Bryce Young, Brock Purdy, Dak Prescott, Kyler Murray, Geno Smith.
Okay, now about those injuries: Forget Purdy and Murray, they might not play at all this year. That leaves six quarterbacks. Now consider that the NFL sees Stafford as an “iffy” proposition on a 5-12 team that has stripped itself of all recognizable names other than Cooper Kupp, Aaron Donald, and Stafford. That’s five quarterbacks.
Fields was the quarterback of the team with the worst record in the NFL. I don’t care how many people on Twitter claim that Fields is “the most exciting quarterback in the league” because the Bears scored 13 points or less on seven different occasions last season and they ranked 32nd in pass attempts, 32nd in yards per pass attempt, 32nd in yards allowed per pass attempt, 32nd in points allowed, and 31st in rushing yards allowed.
It’s interesting how much the Internet hates running backs but simultanously says that Justin Fields is the best young quarterback because of his rushing prowess and in spite of how bad Chicago is at passing the football. “The Bears will be a better passing team because of D.J. Moore” is still but only a theory and the NFL has to assess the risk of betting their primetime ratings on that theory when making their Monday and Sunday Night Football schedule.
I could see the NFL doing that one time—Bears vs. Packers should always do well—but this is still a 3-14 team that the league has to consider putting on primetime. A 3-14 team.
Similarly, I know that I’m personally excited to see Bryce Young in the NFL, but two years ago Trevor Lawrence was perhaps an even bigger star when he debuted as a rookie on the Jaguars; the NFL didn’t give the Jaguars a single non-TNF primetime game in 2021 or 2022. They only flexed Jaguars-Titans to Saturday Night in Week 18 last season because it was for the playoffs.
You could arguably slim the pickings in the NFC down to the Eagles, Cowboys, and Seahawks. At least, as far as the top-three QB draws.
Of course, the Giants are going to be a primetime draw. A playoff team in a huge market, New York is assured at least a couple of non-TNF primetime games. The 49ers are going to be in at least a total of three Sunday and Monday Night Football games. They don’t have a quarterback, but how is that different than every other year? The NFL is entering an interesting test phase with the Packers as this is the first time since 1991 that they won’t have Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers. When Green Bay made the switch to Rodgers in 2008, the Packers were still on primetime three times that season.
I think the NFL is also happy to promote the Lions as “America’s Underdogs” but they are STILL the Lions…last season, the Lions didn’t get into primetime until their Week 18 game against the Packers in which Detroit wasn’t even playing for anything other than Seattle’s playoff hopes. They weren’t even on Thursday Night Football! They were on Thanksgiving Thursday football at 9:30 in the morning PST!
The Vikings could be the number one seed and I still would be surprised if the NFL was hot to promote Minnesota to the world.
I know, I know, there’s a whole other conference and they have a LOT more quarterbacks of interest. But the NFL is beholden to promoting the NFC as HALF of their football league and when you start breaking down the teams and quarterbacks and stars of interest in this conference, there’s no question to me…the Seattle Seahawks are no worse than a top-four draw in the NFC.
Which Seahawks games will be on primetime?
Let’s get the potential “bad game” out of the way first: The Seahawks may be forced to play the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. The NFL has to put Arizona, possibly the league’s worst team, on Thursday Night Football one time and we often see these bad teams matched up with opponents in their division.
They could try and put both of the NFC West’s worst teams (Rams-Cardinals) in that slot, but I suspect that the NFL would prefer to have the Rams face the 49ers for one of their alotted primetime games. It’s a good enough draw to expect L.A. vs San Francisco to be a primetime game but not good enough for Sunday or Monday this time. The NFL could try and sneak two bad teams into one TNF matchup but may not want to go to Amazon and say, “Okay, here you go…Cardinals vs. Commanders!” There has to be something intriguing usually and that’s why there are so many division rivalries in that slot.
It’s just a guess, but Seahawks-Cardinals on TNF seems like a high-percentage shot to me. Perhaps the NFL even schedules it for December, hoping that Kyler has made a return to the field by then and that Seattle has playoff implications on the line.
Monday and Sunday Night Football
The Seahawks and 49ers will play on Sunday Night Football, I’m sure. That feels like such an obvious Sunday Night Football matchup, a huge NFC rivalry that goes back a decade and two teams that met in the playoffs just last season, there’s no doubt that this is one that the NFL will want on primetime. Perhaps the other option would be Monday Night Football because then it leaves open the possibility to flex Seattle-San Francisco to SNF late in the year if they are playing for the division title, without having a double-up of the same SNF game from earlier in the year.
Putting this game on the back-half of the schedule opens the door for Brock Purdy to have maybe returned from elbow surgery by then, but it could also be a risk; the 49ers quarterbacks get hurt so often — with J.T. O’Sullivan suggesting that all of their QB injuries last season were related to Kyle Shanahan’s offensive scheme and coaching style — that I just don’t know what we’re going to get from San Francisco by December. Similarly, I don’t know what we’re going to get from Geno Smith at any point in the year.
I am 100-percent confident though that Seahawks-49ers is a primetime game in 2023.
I believe Seattle will have at least two more primetime games though and there are a few obvious suspects. Number one being the best team in the NFC from last season and the most stacked roster in the conference going into next season, that being the Philadelphia Eagles. The Seahawks will host the Eagles this year and that feels like a very easy primetime play for the NFL early in the schedule.
Why not put Seahawks-Eagles (Geno vs Jalen, the early rookie season for FOUR first round picks in Devon Witherspoon, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Jalen Carter, and Nolan Smith, two teams that could be betting favorites to win their NFC divisions) in a primetime slot between Week 1 and Week 4?
So I’m feeling very confident that the 49ers and Eagles games make sense for Sunday and Monday, while I know for a fact that Seattle has to play on Thursday at least once and that the Cardinals might steal that slot. There is yet a chance that the NFL puts Seahawks-Rams there or slides in a game against maybe the Giants or even the (shoot me into outer space) Moons. But I’ll just play the NFC West odds and say it’s Seattle-Arizona.
The Seahawks could have up to two more primetime games.
One matchup we never see on primetime and is perhaps more suited for “America’s Game of the Week” in the Fox afternoon slate is Seahawks-Cowboys. It’s a definite draw and that may be why the NFL keeps putting it in their premier day-game slot and I’ll guess that’s where it eventually ends up. Something like a Week 9 1:25 PM PT kickoff for Seahawks-Cowboys.
The Browns might be a good team, but I don’t see the NFL rushing to promote “Deshaun Watson football” quite yet and like the Lions, they are still the Browns. Prove it first. Same goes with the Lions, despite a 48-45 thriller last season and the intrigue surrounding Dan Campbell, it’s just not a game that I would bet on being for primetime. Getting Seahawks-Steelers as a Super Bowl XL rematch is certainly an opportunity, but there’s a risk associated with featuring Kenny Pickett vs Geno Smith on national TV.
And Seattle-Carolina has “early morning” written all over it, as does the game against the Titans; of all of Seattle’s opponents, Tennessee is the only one scheduled to host an international game in 2023 and I’d be surprised if the NFL picks their Seahawks game as the one to feature in the U.K..
That would leave three teams I’m mulling over: The Giants, Ravens, and Bengals.
I suspect Baltimore gets a few primetime draws and it would be really interesting to get to see Lamar Jackson and his new offense against the Seattle defense on a big stage. It does make sense.
But even more sense, to me, would be Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and the Cincinnati Bengals passing offense against the new-look Legion of Boom featuring Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen with Quandre Diggs and Jamal Adams. There would be a lot of star names in that game on both teams on both sides of the ball and while it would be a stretch at this point to call it a “Super Bowl preview” I think the NFL might be willing to bet that it’s at least a game between two good rosters for the December schedule.
I believe the Seahawks will get a fourth primetime game, so I’ll say it’s Seattle-Cincinnati in December. And if they get a fifth, which hopefully isn’t Thursday night, it could be against almost any opponent. But perhaps the NFL rolls the dice on Seahawks-Lions with all the interest each had going into the draft this year and the backwards “play-in” game featuring Detroit playing for Seattle in Week 18 against the Packers last season.
What would you like to see?
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