After finishing atop the NFC West in back-to-back seasons before 2015, the Seattle Seahawks finally lost their top spot to the Arizona Cardinals and their high-flying offense. Even still, Seattle managed their fourth straight 10-win season in 2015, and once again appear to be a serious Super Bowl contender in 2016. While the Cardinals will need to worry about the Seahawks in 2016, there’s a good chance that the same can be said about Seattle worrying about Arizona.
With that said, we’re going to take a look at the five teams that may cause the biggest headaches for the Seahawks in 2016. These may be teams on their schedule, or simply opponents who could wind up cutting their path to a Super Bowl victory short when the postseason begins. What better way to start off than with the Cardinals.
[Update: This article originally stated that the Seahawks played in the AFC West. They have not played in that division since 2001. Thank you to our readers for pointing out this error]
1. Arizona Cardinals
One of the most intriguing divisional rivalries in the NFL is between the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals, and that’s not going to change in 2016. Both of these teams look like serious Super Bowl contenders, and their games will be heavily highlighted this season. The first time these two teams meet will happen in Arizona in Week 7 on Sunday Night Football. Then, the two will meet during Week 16 in Seattle, for a game which could end up deciding the division.
The Seahawks and Cardinals split the season series last year, but the final game of the season against Arizona (a 36-6 victory for Seattle) wasn’t all that important for Arizona. Regardless, these two make for some great television.
2. New England Patriots
Week 10 on the road against the Patriots and an angry Tom Brady doesn’t sound like a great mix. This is another prime time game for the Seattle Seahawks, and it’ll be featured on Sunday Night Football as well. The Patriots are consistently one of the top favorites to win the Super Bowl, and even with Brady suspended for four games, that isn’t changing in 2016. In what should be one of the toughest games of the season for the Seahawks, don’t be shocked if their ridiculously talented defense can’t do quite enough to slow down Brady and that New England offense.
3. Carolina Panthers
The Seattle Seahawks and Carolina Panthers square off yet again in 2016, in what seems to be a trend at this point. Unfortunately, the Seahawks lost twice to the Panthers last season, once in the regular season by a score of 27-23, and then in the divisional round of the playoffs 31-24. Do the Panthers just have Seattle’s number, or will revenge be on the Seahawks’ minds in this game? The good news is that as talented as the Panthers are, Seattle gets them at home in their Week 13 matchup, which, you guessed it, is another primetime game for the Seattle Seahawks. The two will square off on Sunday Night Football on December 4.
4. Green Bay Packers
After what should be an intense game against the Panthers in Week 13, the Seahawks then head on the road in Week 14 to take on the Green Bay Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Lambeau Field is one of the toughest places to play in the NFL, and after such a rough Sunday night game, this one could set up for disaster if the Seahawks aren’t ready for a quick bounce back.
The Seahawks and Packers also met back in 2015, but it was in just Week 2 of the season, where the Packers were able to take advantage of home-field advantage and hold off Seattle 27-17. Just another opportunity for a bit of revenge for the Seattle Seahawks in 2016.
5. Los Angeles Rams
Yes, the Rams. Fun fact, the Rams shocking defeated the Seattle Seahawks twice last year, including down the incredible home stretch of the season for the Seahawks in which the team entered the game on a five-game winning streak. Seattle’s only loss of the final seven games of the season came against the Rams, and they also opened up their season with a 34-31 overtime loss to them as well.
The real reason why the Seahawks need to be worried about the Rams is due to their defense. To go along with that, the Rams, who made the move to Los Angeles this season, will play their first regular-season game in LA against Seattle in Week 2 of the season. The crowd, as well as the players, are likely going to be on another level for that game, so it’s an obvious reason to be concerned.