NFC West: Draft Watch 31710 NFC
ESPN.com Seattle Seahawks reporter Terry Blount makes his game-by-game picks for the 2014 season.
Week 1: Green Bay Packers
All the pregame hype will center around the so-called Inaccurate Reception, the controversial Hail Mary catch by Golden Tate two years ago that won the game over the Packers at Seattle on a Monday night. Tate has moved on to Detroit, but the Seahawks now have too many weapons for the Packers to stop, no Hail Mary required. Prediction: Win
Week 2: at San Diego Chargers
The Chargers better hope they play a lot better than they did in the preseason game at Seattle, a 41-14 victory for the Seahawks on Aug. 15. San Diego will play better, but not good enough to beat a much better team. Prediction: Win
Week 3: Denver Broncos
The Broncos and their fans got a tiny bit of meaningless Super Bowl revenge in the preseason opener with a 21-16 victory over the Seahawks in Denver. Enjoy it while it lasts, boys. Repeating that outcome in Seattle is not an option. Prediction: Win
Week 5: at Washington Redskins
Traveling coast to coast to play on the road for a Monday night game is a tough task against any NFL opponent, and even tougher against quarterback Robert Griffin III. But the Seahawks catch a break in this one by coming off a bye week with plenty of time to prepare and be fresh for the journey. Prediction: Win
Week 6: Dallas Cowboys
Cowboys owner Jerry Jones gave Seattle a little bulletin-board material last month when he said the Seahawks were to blame for the increase in penalty flags during the preseason. There won't be near enough flags against Seattle for the Cowboys to win this one. Prediction: Win
Week 7: at St. Louis Rams
Any division game in the NFC West is a rugged battle. The Rams have a defensive line that gave the Seahawks problems a year ago. But they aren't strong enough overall to beat Seattle, even at home in their out-of-date dome. Prediction: Win
Week 8: at Carolina Panthers
The Seahawks were fortunate to win the season opener at Charlotte a year ago. That Panthers team was better than this one, but back-to-back road games against very physical defensive teams will end the Seattle winning streak. Prediction: Loss
Week 9: Oakland Raiders
Coming off their first loss of the season and returning home against an outmanned opponent, is there any doubt? Prediction: Win
Week 10: New York Giants
The Seahawks easily defeated the Giants 23-0 last year in New Jersey, a dress rehearsal for their Super Bowl victory at the same location -- MetLife Stadium. The Seahawks won't need a rehearsal to roll past the Giants in this one. Prediction: Win
Week 11: at Kansas City Chiefs
This likely will be a low-scoring game between two strong defensive teams. Odds are against any team that has to try to win by matching its defense against the Seahawks' D. Prediction: Win
Week 12: Arizona Cardinals
The last time the Cardinals played at CenturyLink Field was last December when they handed the Seahawks a 17-10 loss. That won't happen again unless the Seahawks get caught looking ahead to the 49ers game. The Seahawks don't look ahead. Prediction: Win
Week 13: at San Francisco 49ers
It's a Thanksgiving night, national TV game in the 49ers' shiny new stadium against the hated Seahawks. If San Francisco can't win this one, its time as a championship contender is over. Prediction: Loss
Week 14: at Philadelphia Eagles
This is the toughest part of the season for the Seahawks with back-to-back road games against likely playoff contenders. But the 10 days between games will help and be enough of a cushion to keep Seattle from losing two in a row. Prediction: Win
Week 15: San Francisco 49ers
This is a game that could decide which team wins the NFC West. No way the Seahawks lose to the 49ers twice in three weeks, especially not in front of a rabid full house of 12s. Prediction: Win
Week 16: at Arizona Cardinals
The Cardinals probably will be fighting for a playoff spot, and the Seahawks already will be in at 12-2. That difference will be just enough for Arizona to win at home in the same stadium where the Seahawks will win the Super Bowl a few weeks later. Prediction: Loss
Week 17: St. Louis Rams
For the second consecutive year, the Rams close the regular season in Seattle. And for the second consecutive year, the Seahawks will beat them without much trouble. Prediction: Win
Predicted Record: 13-3
» Draft Watch: Biggest needs (2/17) | Busts/gems (2/24) | Schemes, themes (3/3) | Recent history (3/10) | Needs revisited (3/17) | Under-the-radar needs (3/26) | History in that spot (3/31) | Draft approach (4/7) | Decision-makers (4/14) | Dream scenario/Plan B (4/21)
Each Wednesday leading up to the NFL draft (April 22-24), the ESPN.com blog network will take a division-by-division look at key aspects of the draft. Today’s topic: Biggest needs revisited.
Losing Karlos Dansby in free agency and not signing Larry Foote left the Cardinals with a need at inside linebacker even though Paris Lenon's addition helped some.
Safety could have been another concern, but the Cardinals acted quickly to replace Antrel Rolle with Kerry Rhodes. The Cardinals also protected themselves on the offensive line by adding guard Rex Hadnot and re-signing tackle Jeremy Bridges. Those moves bought some flexibility in the draft.
The Cardinals aren't picking early enough to seriously consider landing a franchise quarterback, although that could be a position of need even after the team signs a veteran to push Matt Leinart. Leinart's contract balloons in value in 2011.
Arizona still could stand to bolster its defensive line in the draft, particularly at nose tackle.
San Francisco 49ers
The opening weeks of free agency have only confirmed the 49ers' needs on the offensive line. It's important for the team to find a starting right tackle. A starter or at least quality depth at guard would also help.
Offensive tackle was a draft need even before Tony Pashos signed with Cleveland and Barry Sims scheduled a visit with the Redskins. Sims has had value as a swing tackle. Pashos provided more depth even though he was one-dimensional as a right tackle only
Cornerback remains an obvious position for the 49ers to target in the draft. They've relied on older veterans at the position in recent seasons. Nate Clements' long-term future with the team is in some question. The 49ers haven't addressed the position in free agency. The draft awaits.
Finally, the 49ers have been visiting with free-agent linebacker Akin Ayodele. Signing Ayodele would give the team welcome veteran depth at inside linebacker behind Patrick Willis and Takeo Spikes. That type of signing would address a potential draft need.
The Seahawks' needs have become more obvious since the free-agent signing period opened. Deon Grant's release left Jordan Babineaux and Jamar Adams as the only safeties under contract. That's a position the Seahawks need to address, probably in the draft.
Existing needs included offensive tackle, guard, quarterback, defensive end and cornerback.
Seattle could sensibly address the need at guard by signing a veteran free agent such as Ben Hamilton, who has experience in line coach Alex Gibbs' system. The Seahawks' interest in Chargers backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst could lead to a trade that would address another need.
The team is different but not necessarily better at defensive end after sending Darryl Tapp to the Eagles for Chris Clemons and a 2010 fourth-round choice. Defensive end remains a need as Seattle tries to improve its pass rush.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams' draft scenarios came into clearer focus when the team signed A.J. Feeley as its No. 2 quarterback before adding defensive tackle Fred Robbins.
The moves set up the Rams to select a quarterback first overall if Sam Bradford appeals to them. Feeley could mentor Bradford while Robbins provided needed muscle on defense (the Rams would be bypassing defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Gerald McCoy under this scenario).
The Rams haven't upgraded their front-line talent in free agency. Their core draft needs remain. Losing pass-rushers Leonard Little and/or James Hall in free agency would accentuate the immediate need for help in that area. The Saints might have interest in one or both.
Placing the lowest tender on restricted free agent Oshiomogho Atogwe showed the Rams could be willing to part with him. Losing him would create another need along with linebacker. The Rams have shown interest in veteran linebacker Na'il Diggs, but they need more young talent at the position and the draft could help.