Green Bay Packers, Sept. 24: Call this one Packers starter versus former backup, Part II. Following in the spiral wake that were those memorable matchups between Brett Favre and Matt Hasselbeck is Aaron Rodgers against Matt Flynn, as the NFL’s reigning MVP visits CenturyLink Field for the Seahawks’ only “Monday Night Football” game. Flynn still has to win the starting job after being signed by the Seahawks in free agency, but this matchup has “marquee” written all over it even without the obvious QB connection.
New England Patriots, Oct. 14: A Seahawks’ secondary that features three Pro Bowl players – safeties Earl Thomas and Kam Chancellor and cornerback Brandon Browner – and can “glove you,” as former QB Trent Dilfer recently put it, draws the ultimate coverage challenge with Tom Brady throwing to Wes Welker, and Rob Gronkowski, and Aaron Hernandez, and Deion Branch. So this game also would be a good time to unleash the Seahawks’ improved pass rush.
San Francisco 49ers, Dec. 23: The road to the NFC West title that belonged to the Seahawks from 2004-07 now runs through the Bay Area, as the 49ers not only went 13-3 in their first season under Jim Harbaugh but advanced to the NFC Championship game. The Seahawks played the Niners tough last season, as they lost by two points at CenturyLink in December and trailed by two points late the fourth quarter of the season-opening loss in San Francisco.
At Arizona Cardinals, Sept. 9: The Seahawks’ 2012 season begins where the 2011 season ended – with a loss in the desert that prevented them from finishing 8-8. But they didn’t go down without a fight, falling 23-20 in overtime and making Larry Fitzgerald pay for each of his nine catches for 149 yards. The Cardinals also snapped Marshawn Lynch’s franchise-record run of scoring a touchdown at 11 consecutive games. So payback will be on everyone’s mind, and on multiple levels.
At Carolina Panthers, Oct. 7: The Seahawks play four games with 10 a.m. kickoffs, West Coast time, this season. This one has a late start, and also is the only long trip that features Cam Newton, who took the league by storm as a rookie last season while running for 14 touchdowns and passing for 21. The elusive and laser-armed QB will test a Seahawks defense that ranked ninth in the league last season – from the pass rush supplied by Chris Clemons to the deep coverage skills of Earl Thomas.
At Chicago Bears, Dec. 2: The Seahawks are facing the Bears for the eighth time in the past seven seasons – with five of the previous seven games in this stretch at Soldier Field, including one last season and two in 2010. The Bears hold a 4-3 edge, and ended the Seahawks’ 2006 and 2010 seasons by handing them playoff losses in Chicago. But the Seahawks have beaten the Bears twice in the regular season – and in Chicago – under Pete Carroll.