Long-time football fans know this: The Seattle Seahawks' road to a Super Bowl repeat will not be an easy one.
They play in the toughest division in the NFL. They will get the best shot from every one of their opponents because those teams want to knock the king off his throne. And they have one of the toughest strength-of-schedules in the league based on their opponents' records last season.
Here are 10 observations about how the Seahawks schedule, released Wednesday, lays out.
The season opener is the Seahawks’ only home primetime game
Why will the 12s be seen only once on national TV? Because the Seahawks are just too good at home. A league source tells Pro Football Talk that the NFL was concerned about giving Seattle too many home primetime games because of the recent history of blowouts here. Look at the last two regular season matchups against the 49ers and last year’s 34-7 debacle over the Saints as examples. So, if you’re living outside the Seattle NFL market and watching the views of CenturyLink Field on Sept. 4 against the Packers, take it in while you can.
The Seahawks get another short week to prepare for a division rival
For the third straight season, the Seahawks have to go on the road on three days rest for a Thursday night game against an NFC West opponent. In 2012, it was at San Francisco. Last season, it was the Cardinals. This year, it will be a Thanksgiving night game against the 49ers again.
Related: Seahawks 2014 schedule
The first half of the season will be easiest
Yes, the Seahawks face three playoff teams from 2013 right out of the gate, but two of those are at home including a matchup with the Broncos, who are still recovering from that Super Bowl blowout. Then, after a bye week, four of the next five are against teams that were 8-8 or worse last season.
The second half will be brutal
Seven of the final eight games of the season will either be against division opponents or teams with winning records last season. That includes two against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Seahawks bye week comes really early
Week 4 is the first week of NFL byes and the Seahawks will be one of six teams to be idle that week. The downside of this is that if there are any lingering injuries late in the season, or if the Seahawks just need to rest a couple players, it could make winning late-season games tougher.
Fewer 10 a.m. kickoffs this season
Remember when the biggest concern about the Seahawks on the road was that they couldn’t win 10 a.m. east coast games? They got over that hump last season, going 4-1 in five games. This season, they only have three early kickoffs, two of which come in back-to-back weeks in October (at Rams, at Panthers) and one in November (at Chiefs).
The Seahawks have four primetime games, but…
Don’t expect the Seahawks vs. Cardinals Sunday primetime matchup in Week 16 to stay in primetime. If the NFC West is wrapped up or if the Cardinals are the team we usually see, NBC will grab a more compelling game for that timeslot.
Seahawks game most likely to get flexed into primetime
The Sunday night game in Week 14 is Patriots at Chargers. While Tom Brady is a draw, the Chargers barely made the playoffs last year and will again have to fight the Broncos and Chiefs just to make the playoffs. So, the Seahawks at the Eagles could be an attractive move for NBC.
Why not the 49ers at Seahawks in Week 15, you ask? Because the Cowboys vs. Eagles are currently in the primetime slot that week. Which brings us to the next point.
The Seahawks get fewer primetime games than the Cowboys?
The Dallas Cowboys, who the Seahawks will host on a Sunday afternoon in October, are “America’s Team.” They’re also mediocre at best. They’re coming off an 8-8 season and haven’t seen the playoffs in four years. Yet, they are the Notre Dame of the NFL because no matter how average they are, they always seem to be on national TV. This year, they will get five primetime games, including two in back-to-back weeks. Meanwhile, the defending Super Bowl Champions get four.
Why not the Seahawks vs. 49ers in the season finale?
Let’s be honest. The NFC West will come down to the Seahawks and 49ers unless there are major injuries to one of the teams. And, it could be decided in the final week of the season. So, why does the NFL keep putting the Seahawks vs. Rams and 49ers vs. Cardinals in Week 17, like it has the last two years? If it was Seahawks vs. 49ers, it could set up a one-game showdown for the division and would be ripe for primetime.