The Seahawks are the only NFC West team that will open the 2015 regular season on the road, a matchup with the Rams scheduled for 10 a.m. PT this Sunday, Sept. 13 at St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome.
Seattle coach Pete Carroll makes it clear to his club every year that the ultimate goal is to own the NFC West, so before the team kicks off the season with a divisional game, let's take a look at what the Seahawks' NFC West rivals have been up to as they prepare for regular-season openers of their own:
<span data-mce-style="text-decoration: underline;">Arizona Cardinals</span>
Week 1: The Cardinals open the season at home against the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is set for 1:05 p.m. PT on Sunday, Sept. 13 from Arizona's University of Phoenix Stadium.
Roster Cut Review: Defensive end Matt Shaughnessy was one of the bigger names cut from the Cardinals on their roster reduction from 75 to 53 players this past weekend. But as AZCardinals.com's Darren Urban notes, the emergence of second-year pro Josh Mauro made Shaughnessy expendable. Arizona also traded for quarterback Matt Barkley this past weekend, parting ways with quarterbacks Logan Thomas and Philip Simms in the process. Barkley, who played one year under Pete Carroll at USC, joins a quarterback group consisting of starter Carson Palmer and backup Drew Stanton. Tight end Jermaine Gresham, a former first-round pick and two-time Pro Bowler, and running back Chris Johnson, who rushed for more than 2,000 yards in 2009, joined the Cardinals' offense in free agency this offseason.
Season Outlook: Arizona narrowly missed the playoffs in 2013 with a 10-6 record and was the frontrunner in the NFC West for much of last season, posting a 9-1 record to start the year. But injuries to key players like Palmer derailed the Cardinals' season late, and the team finished the year with a record of 11-5, falling to the Carolina Panthers in the wild-card round of the playoffs. After injuries to his ACL and shoulder, Palmer is reportedly healthy entering 2015, which should bode well for the Cardinals' future. ESPN.com's game-by-game predictions have Arizona finishing the year with an 11-5 record (splitting the series 1-1 with the Seahawks) under head coach Bruce Arians, who has compiled a 22-11 mark in his first two years with the club.
Worth a Look: What Cardinals players think of their Madden ratings..
<span data-mce-style="text-decoration: underline;">San Francisco 49ers</span>
Week 1: The 49ers open the year at home against the Minnesota Vikings on Monday Night Football at Levi's Stadium, where the Niners will debut their new alternate black uniforms.
Roster Cut Review: A surprise exclusion from the team's 53-man roster was Darnell Dockett, the veteran defensive tackle who signed with the 49ers this past offseason after missing all of 2014 with an injury to his right knee. Dockett, who had 40.5 sacks through 10 seasons with the Cardinals, was one of the 49ers' more notable offseason additions. Former Australian rugby league star Jarryd Hayne, who chose to play for the 49ers over the Seahawks and Detroit Lions this past offseason, made the team's final roster. Hayne finished the preseason ranked second in rushing yards (175) while averaging 7.0 yards per carry and carving out a role in the punt-return game.
Season Outlook: To Seahawks fans who haven't been keeping close tabs on the 49ers' offseason, the division rival's roster will look quite different this year. Offensive lineman Anthony Davis, defensive lineman Justin Smith, and linebackers Patrick Willis and Chris Borland retired; running back Frank Gore (Colts), wide receiver Michael Crabtree (Raiders), offensive guard Mike Iupati (Cardinals), cornerback Perrish Cox (Titans), and wide receiver Stevie Johnson (Chargers) found new teams; outside linebacker Aldon Smith was released; and former head coach Jim Harbaugh is now running the show at his alma mater, the University of Michigan. Key contributors like quarterback Colin Kaepernick, tight end Vernon Davis, and linebacker NaVorro Bowman return in 2015, but ESPN.com's game-by-game predictions have San Francisco finishing the year with a 5-11 record (including two losses to the Seahawks) in Jim Tomsula's first year as head coach.
Worth a Look: This hit delivered by the 49ers' Australian rookie Hayne..
<span data-mce-style="text-decoration: underline;">St. Louis Rams</span>
Week 1: The Rams open 2015 against the Seahawks at 10 a.m. this Sunday, Sept. 13 from St. Louis' Edward Jones Dome.
Roster Cut Review: Third-year pro Barrett Jones was in line to become the Rams' starting center this season, but instead found himself without a job after the team's roster cut to 53 players. Linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar, who posted 36 tackles through 16 games last year, was also left out of the team's final roster, as was rookie offensive tackle Isaiah Battle, who the Rams acquired in the fifth round of the supplemental draft. Battle was later re-signed to the team's 10-man practice squad.
Season Outlook: No longer in the mix at quarterback is Sam Bradford, the oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick who the Rams traded to the Philadelphia Eagles this past offseason in exchange for quarterback Nick Foles, who will be backed up at the spot by Case Keenum and Sean Mannion. Running back Todd Gurley, the team's first pick (No. 10 overall) in the 2015 NFL Draft who's coming off an injury to his ACL, won't play against the Seahawks but is no longer sporting a non-contact "beanie" on the practice field, indicating he's close to seeing action. The defense remains St. Louis' strong suit and ESPN.com's game-by-game predictions have the Rams finishing the year with an 8-8 record (splitting the series 1-1 with the Seahawks) in Jeff Fisher's fourth season as head coach.
Worth a Look: This interview with Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis ahead of Sunday's game against Seattle..