Good afternoon, 12s!
Here's a look at what's 'out there' for today – Wednesday, March 31 – about your Seattle Seahawks.
How the NFC West stacks up in 17th game
On Tuesday, NFL clubs voted to expand the regular season to 17 games, the first change to the regular-season structure since 1978. The 17th game will be played against a team from the opposing conference, with the AFC teams playing host in 2021 and then alternating with the NFC moving forward. The opponents will come from the same division as the rest of their own division rivals. This year, NFC West teams will face a team from AFC North, NFC South vs. AFC South, NFC North vs. AFC West, and NFC East vs. AFC East.
So who are each of the NFC West teams facing in their newly-added game, and how do they stack up? Let's take a look.
Seattle Seahawks vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
For the Seahawks, it will be a road trip to face the Pittsburgh Steelers. Pittsburgh, like Seattle, are defending division champs coming off of a 12-4 season that ended with a Wild Card loss. In addition to the challenges of facing a perennial playoff contender like the Steelers, the Seahawks will also add another roughly 4,200 miles to their travel schedule, which typically leads the league in miles from season to season. Seattle traveled 28,878 miles during the 2020 regular season, over 3,000 miles more than any other team. San Francisco was second in distance traveled at 25,485.
Arizona Cardinals vs. Cleveland Browns
Arizona will face another team viewed as on the rise in Cleveland, who finished 2020 with a 11-5 record, qualifying as the No. 6 seed in the playoffs, their first appearance since 2002. The Browns advanced to the Divisional Round after taking down the division-winning Steelers in the Wild Card Round, 48-37, marking their first playoff win since 1994 under Bill Belichick. The Cardinals will travel 3,460 miles roundtrip for their game in Cleveland.
Los Angeles Rams vs. Baltimore Ravens
The Rams will head to Baltimore to face a Ravens squad that finished 11-5 last season, good for second in the AFC North and the No. 5 seed in the conference. Like the Browns, the Ravens won their Wild Card game, defeating the Titans 20-13, before falling in the Divisional Round, losing to the Bills 17-3. Led by former MVP Lamar Jackson, still somehow just 24-years-old, the Ravens will present a difficult challenge to any team they face. In addition to needing to lock down the do-it-all QB, the Rams will have to travel a long way to get there, flying 4,600 miles roundtrip, the longest trip taken by NFC West teams for the recently-added game.
San Francisco 49ers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
In a hotly-contested division like the AFC North, with a total of three playoff teams last season, someone from the NFC West was going to have the benefit of a more favorable match-up in Cincinnati. That opportunity fell to the 49ers. The Bengals finished 4-11-1 in 2020, an improvement on their 2-14 record one year prior, which had landed them the first overall selection in the 2019 NFL Draft, used to select QB Joe Burrow. Burrow had been in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award before tearing his ACL and MCL in Week 10 of the season. Reports suggest he is on track to return in time for the start of the season, and with another opportunity to add premier talent to their roster (the Bengals select 5th in this year's Draft), the Bengals seem like a safe bet to take another step forward in 2021. That being said, even if they remain bottom-dwellers in their division, there are still no guarantees in the NFL. Look no further than last year, when the 9-4 Rams lost to the 0-13 Jets late in the season. The 49ers will fly 4,060 miles roundtrip for their game in Cincinnati.
So there you have it. While a road game against a division winner probably wouldn't be the first choice for the Seahawks when adding an extra game to the schedule, perhaps you can take some comfort in knowing that the rest of the NFC West will face some challenges of their own.
Seattle's 2021 list of opponents is set. The full 2021 NFL schedule with dates and times will be announced in May, 2021.
HOME GAMES: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Jacksonville Jaguars, Tennessee Titans, New Orleans Saints
AWAY GAMES: Arizona Cardinals, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Washington Football Team
Under the current NFL scheduling formula, every team within a division plays 17 games as follows:
- Home and away against its three division opponents (6 games).
- The four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (4 games).
- The four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (4 games).
- Two intraconference games based on the prior year's standings (2 games). These games will match a first-place team against the first-place teams in the two same-conference divisions the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place, and fourth-place teams in a conference will be matched in the same way each year.
- One interconference game based on the prior year's standings on a rotating four-year cycle (one game). These games will match a first-place team from one division against a first-place team in an opposite conference division that the team is not scheduled to play that season. The second-place, third-place and fourth-place teams in each division are matched in the same way each year. The home conference for this game will rotate each season.
On This Date - Burleson Heads West
Happy anniversary to Seahawks Legend Nate Burleson, who signed with Seattle 15 years ago today. The O'Dea High School alum spent four seasons in Seattle, racking up 136 catches for 1,758 yards and 15 touchdowns while also handling punt and kick returns. Burleson holds the franchise's single-season record for punt return yards after returning 58 punts for 658 yards in 2007.
Social Post Of The Day
Congrats to defensive end Carlos Dunlap II on re-signing with the Seahawks yesterday. Dunlap, a self-proclaimed lover of numbers, posted at 12:12 on Tuesday to celebrate the contract which will keep him in a Seahawks uniform for his 12th season in the NFL.
More From Around The Web
Seahawks.com's John Boyle recaps Tuesday's press conference with new Seahawks guard Gabe Jackson.
Boyle also provides five things to know about the new Seahawks guard.
The AP's Tim Booth has more on Gabe Jackson's excitement about joining the Seahawks.
The Tacoma News Tribune's Gregg Bell applauds the creativity the Seahawks have used to build the 2021 roster with limited cap space.
Bob Condotta of the Seattle Times looks at what the NFL's expanded regular season to 17 games means for the Seahawks.