In 2017, the Seattle Seahawks missed the playoffs for the first time in six years. Injuries on both sides of the ball and an ineptitude to score points brought about a 9-7 season. This year, the road to the postseason will be even harder. Seattle is tied for the fifth-toughest schedule in the NFL in terms of their opponents’ 2017 winning percentages. They’ll start the year with two straight games on the road and have only three home games in the first nine weeks.
There are a lot of new faces on both sides of the ball for Seattle. The Seahawks must find cohesion on defense after losing Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett, Sheldon Richardson, Cliff Avril and possibly Earl Thomas (due to holdout). With all the turnover on defense forcing a reliance on young, unproven players, Russell Wilson and the offense will need to score a lot of points to win. Unfortunately, Seattle must find replacements for two integral options from the passing game, Jimmy Graham and Paul Richardson.
Here are our game-by-game predictions for the Seahawks’ 2018 season, starting with the first four weeks:
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET:
In his eight seasons as the Head Coach of the Seahawks, Pete Carroll has a record of 4-4 on opening day. Now he must lead his team into the Mile High City, where Seattle has gone 2-3 this century. Yes, the Broncos finished last season at 5-11, but they should be vastly improved after signing free-agent quarterback Case Keenum.
The Seahawks’ offensive tackles will have their hands full holding off pass-rushers Von Miller and Bradley Chubb. Expect Denver’s Pro Bowl slot cornerback Chris Harris to shadow Doug Baldwin the majority of the time. If Seattle can’t get the run game going, it will be a very long day for Russell Wilson.
For the first time since Peyton Manning retired, Denver’s offense will have a quality signal-caller behind center. With Keenum spreading the ball around for the Broncos, the Seahawks revamped secondary could have a tough time containing wideouts Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders. While Denver won’t light up the scoreboard, they will have enough offense to complement a stalwart defense.
Seattle will struggle to score and they’ll start the year off with a loss, 26-10. Record: 0-1
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 17, at Chicago Bears, 8:15 p.m. ET:
During Carroll’s tenure, the Seahawks have an .815 winning percentage in prime-time games. That record is likely to improve in week two. Though expected to be much better than their 5-11 record in 2017, Chicago should still be figuring out their offense under new Head Coach Matt Nagy. If Seattle can slow down Jordan Howard and the Bears’ running game, second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky (59.4 completion percentage, 6.6 yards per attempt in ’17) could struggle under the limelight.
Chicago’s veteran defense will be a daunting challenge for the Seahawks. The Bears are stout against the run with defensive tackle Eddie Goldman and Danny Trevathan at middle linebacker. With Kyle Fuller and Prince Amukamara manning the boundaries in Chicago’s secondary, look for Russell to target the middle of the field. The Bears allowed a 66% completion rate for 704 yards and four touchdowns against opposing tight ends in 2017.
In what will be a bit of a slug fest, Seattle gets their first win, 16-13. Record: 1-1
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, vs. Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET
The 2017 Seahawks marched into Dallas last December and stole a 21-12 victory with the help of three turnovers from Dak Prescott and the Cowboys offense. Against this year’s squad from Dallas, the score shouldn’t be that close. With no major receiving threat remaining on the Cowboys’ roster following the release of Dez Bryant, Seattle’s secondary will finally have the upper hand. Dallas’ offense must rely on the ground-game. That’s a great matchup for Seattle as linebackers K.J. Wright and Bobby Wagner are solid against the run. Wright and Wagner were both ranked as top-five linebackers in the NFL by Athlon Sports and Pro Football Focus named the Seahawks linebackers as the best group in football.
League's best linebackers? Couldn't agree more, @PFF. 👊
— Seattle Seahawks (@Seahawks) May 15, 2018
Dallas’ defense was ranked 18th against the pass and 21st against the run in 2017. Now they’ll be throwing three second-year players into the starting secondary (Jourdan Lewis, Chidobe Awuzie, and Xavier Woods). Look for Wilson to have his best game of the season to date.
In Seattle’s home opener, look for the 12th man to disrupt Prescott and the Cowboy’s offense. If Ezekiel Elliott can be contained, it will be a comfortable win for the ‘Hawks, 31-17. Record: 2-1.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:05 p.m. ET
Seattle hasn’t lost a game in Phoenix Stadium since 2012 but that trend may come to an end in 2018. The Cardinals will be enjoying the return of All-Pro running back David Johnson, who was lost for all of 2017 with a broken wrist, and will welcome free-agent addition Sam Bradford at quarterback. Johnson will be the third straight Pro-Bowl caliber running back Seattle will face. The ‘Hawks defense will have their hands full in stopping the dual-threat back. If Seattle commits too much in slowing down Johnson, Bradford will have the ever-steady and seemingly never-aging Larry Fitzgerald along with the dynamic rookie Christian Kirk to throw to.
The 2018 version of the Cardinals defense could be lethal. With future Hall of Famer Patrick Peterson at cornerback and sack-master Chandler Jones pressuring Wilson, Seattle will struggle to move the ball through the air. Arizona’s D is stacked with talent and speed to burn at all three levels.
Chandler Jones led the NFL in combined sacks and hits in 2017! pic.twitter.com/UA6hU8kVbc
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 9, 2018
The Arizona defense will be too much for Seattle to handle. The ‘Hawks will suffer their second defeat on the year, 26-16. Record: 2-2.
David Rogers covers the Seahawks for Full Press Coverage. You can lodge all complaints with him on Twitter.