Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
With the 49ers' and Cardinals' 2009 fates already set in permanent marker, it's time for a look at how the Seahawks might finish, based on their recently released schedule. My initial read shows seven or eight victories, with the season possibly hinging on a Week 6 home game against the Cardinals.
The Seahawks' first four games are pretty easy to assess. Seattle should beat the Rams at home in the opener. The Colts should beat the Seahawks during a 10 a.m. PT kickoff at Indianapolis. In between, the Seahawks figure to split with the 49ers and Bears. That would give them a 2-2 record through four games, a reasonable projection.
The next four games -- against the Jaguars, Cardinals, Cowboys (road) and Lions -- will likely determine whether the Seahawks contend for a playoff spot. Three of the four are at home, but a Week 6 defeat to Arizona at Qwest Field might make it tough for the Seahawks to take back the division. That game stands out from afar as a pivotal one. I'm not yet convinced we can give Seattle the benefit of the doubt, so let's go with 2-2 during this four-game stretch.
The schedule becomes less favorable in the season's third quarter. Three consecutive road games will test the Seahawks. I see Seattle winning one of the three -- probably against the Rams -- before returning home to avenge their 2008 defeat to the 49ers. A loss at home to San Francisco would likely prove severely damaging. Let's take Seattle in that game for a 2-2 record during the four-game period in question.
The final month is unforgiving. Road games against the Texans and Packers will be difficult for Seattle to win. The Seahawks should win at home against the Bucs. But the injury problems that derailed Seattle last season -- affecting older players such as Patrick Kerney, Matt Hasselbeck and Walter Jones -- could begin to mount late in the season. With me so far?
That could prove problematic against a rugged Titans team in Week 17. I expect the Titans' record to drop off this season, but that could raise the stakes for them in the final game. Until the Seahawks earn back the benefit of the doubt, I'll tentatively project a 1-3 record over these closing four games.
It all adds up to 7-9, a three-game improvement over last season, with a chance to get to 8-8 or 9-7 by beating the Cardinals in Week 6 and finding a way to finish stronger in December.
Seahawks Regular-Season Schedule (all times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 13, ST. LOUIS RAMS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 20, at San Francisco 49ers, 4:05 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 27, CHICAGO BEARS, 4:05 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 4, at Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 11, JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS, 4:15 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 18, ARIZONA CARDINALS, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Week 7: BYE
Week 8: Sunday, Nov. 1, at Dallas Cowboys, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 8, DETROIT LIONS, 4:05 p.m., Fox
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 15, at Arizona Cardinals, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 22, at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 29, at St. Louis Rams, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 6, SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 13, at Houston Texans, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 20, TAMPA BAY BUCS, 4:15 p.m., Fox
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 27, at Green Bay Packers, 1 p.m., Fox
Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 3, TENNESSEE TITANS, 4:15 p.m., CBS