Seahawks’ 2021 schedule will include four—and likely five—fellow division winners

  • Tue Jan 5th, 2021 4:00pm
  • Sports

By Gregg Bell

The News Tribune

In the NFL, winning comes at a cost.

That price is a tough schedule, to help prevent you from winning as much again the following season.

The league that champions year-over-year parity set its schedule this week the way it always does: with formulas based upon the final NFL standings from the previous regular season. The principle of the best teams having the harder schedule the following year applies to the NFC West-champion Seahawks.

Seattle will play the 2020 first-place teams from four of the other seven divisions in the league in 2021, and likely a fifth division champion in a 17th game still to be announced.

Six of the 16 games are the annual home-and-home games with division rivals Arizona, San Francisco and the Los Angeles Rams. That means at least 40% (four of the remaining 10 games) of the Seahawks’ games outside the West next season will be against defending division champions.

Seattle’s home schedule in 2021 will be games against:

Chicago

Jacksonville

Detroit

*Tennessee

*New Orleans

Arizona

San Francisco

Los Angeles Rams

Seattle’s 2021 away games will be at:

*Green Bay

*Washington

Houston

Indianapolis

Minnesota

Arizona

San Francisco

Los Angeles Rams

* = 2020 division champion

Plus, the Seahawks are likely to be playing a fifth division champion next season: Pittsburgh.

The NFL is finalizing plans to have a 17th regular-season game for each team in 2021 for the first time, the league’s website reported last week. The announcement may come within a couple months. That’s after the NFL reaches agreements on changes to media contracts and the collective bargaining agreement to add the additional game. The revenue from it would help offset the hundreds of millions of dollars lost in 2020 because the coronavirus pandemic kept fans from attending games.

The league is planning to have a “crossover” plan for that 17th game. The clubs that finished first in each division in 2020 will play each other in 2021, second-place teams will play seconds, thirds against thirds and fourth against fourths. That’s according to Albert Breer, senior NFL reporter for Sports Illustrated.

Teams in the NFC West would play those from the AFC North, thus Seattle against Pittsburgh for the second time in three seasons.

The league typically announces the dates and times for all games in the spring before a coming season, usually in April.

Though the NFL tries to keep it from happening, the Seahawks (12-4) are in the playoffs for the ninth time in 11 years under coach Pete Carroll. They won the NFC West for the fifth time in that span. Seattle hosts the Los Angeles Rams (10-6) Saturday in the first round of the playoffs.

“Really, really thankful for this, this football season for our team to get all the way to 12 (wins) and all that,” Carroll said following his team’s win over San Francisco in the regular-season finale. “Finish, really, for four straight wins, which is something that doesn’t happen very often. We’re proud of just the way we finished.”