The NFL didn’t do the Seattle Seahawks many favors with the 2011 schedule, released on Tuesday afternoon. The Seahawks begin with a brutal road stretch, playing their first two games away from Qwest Field as they travel to San Francisco to face the 49ers in week one and to Pittsburgh to face the Steelers in week two. Finally, on Sept. 25, the Seahawks return to Seattle for the home-opener as the Arizona Cardinals come to town. If Seattle can take one of its first two games on the road — likely San Francisco — it would have to be considered a success.
Once the home-opener passes, the task doesn’t get any easier as the Atlanta Falcons head to Qwest Field in week four. In week five, the Seahawks fly all the way across the country to face the New York Giants at the New Meadowlands. While the trip is tough enough, the schedule-makers set a 10 a.m. Pacific start time, making the adjustment that much more difficult after a cross-country trip.
Following a bye in week six, Seattle heads to Cleveland to face the Browns with another 10 a.m. start time on the table. In Decemeber, Seattle hosts two-straight prime-time home games as the Philadelphia Eagles come to town for Thursday Night Football on Dec. 1 and the St. Louis Rams head to Qwest Field for Monday Night Football on Dec. 12. Again, it’s a difficult stretch, but the Seahawks will have plenty of time between these two games.
All told, the chips are stacked against the Seahawks, both in schedule strength and in timing. With early start times, cross-country flights and a murderous row of games, Seattle is in for a fight this coming season.