The 2021 NFL schedule was released with much fanfare Wednesday night. This season arguably offers more intrigue than ever, due largely in part to the addition of a 17th game. Per usual, the Seahawks have several eye-catching matchups on the horizon.
Overall, Seattle will take part in at least five primetime games, barring a flex into Sunday or - new to this season - Monday Night Football towards the end of the year. This gives rise to numerous tasty matchups with playoff-caliber teams and some of the biggest brands the NFL has to offer.
Today, we're looking at five of the best games on the Seahawks' 2021 schedule.
Week 5: vs. Rams, Thursday Night Football
Seattle's first taste of the primetime lights comes against their most bitter rivals from the 2020 season. The Rams and Seahawks squared off in three key matchups last year, including a decisive victory in the NFC West race for Seattle. The Rams got their revenge in the playoffs, however, handing the Seahawks one of their most embarrassing losses in the Pete Carroll by a score of 30-20.
But Carroll's squad comes prepared in primetime affairs, especially home at Lumen Field. And they'll likely have an extra chip on their shoulder from this past January.
There will be no love lost between these two squads, even with a new signal caller under center in Los Angeles. Matthew Stafford switched teams for the first time in his 12-year career, heading from the Lions to the Rams in an early offseason trade. He gets a new offense with a new staff in a new city, working under the tutelage of offensive mastermind Sean McVay. This matchup will say a lot about where he could possibly take the Rams.
Week 6: at Steelers, Sunday Night Football
In the second of a stretch of three-straight primetime games, the Seahawks will head to Heinz Field for a bout with the Steelers for the second time in three seasons.
When these two teams get together, there are always fireworks. Who could forget - no matter how hard 12s may try - Super Bowl XL? Of course, both sides could not be more different, aside from Ben Roethlisberger remaining under center for Pittsburgh. In the 15 years since that controversial Super Bowl, the Seahawks and Steelers have battled it out four times, with each team winning twice.
Seattle has won the last two matchups, but Heinz Field has been a tough place to win. It will be a raucous crowd in Pittsburgh and the Seahawks will need to bring their A-game to topple the Steelers.
Week 7: vs. Saints, Monday Night Football
For the third week in a row, the Seahawks will show the entire country what they got in a primetime slot. Seattle is 33-8-1 in primetime games under head coach Pete Carroll, and will need that good fortune against a very talented Saints team.
However, these are turbulent times in the "Big Easy." Drew Brees announced his retirement, leaving New Orleans with Jameis Winston and Taysom Hill to duke it out for snaps under center. They drafted Notre Dame standout Ian Book, but if he develops into a reputable NFL quarterback, he will need seasoning on the bench first.
By late October, head coach Sean Payton will likely have that position figured out and the Saints will be playing to the best of their potential, as they usually do in the regular season. They've won two in a row against the Seahawks, in 2016 and 2019. The last time these two met on a Monday night, Seattle steamrolled New Orleans by a score of 34-7 in the former's 2013 Super Bowl-winning season.
Week 10: at Packers
Though it's not a primetime game (yet), this has classic written all over it. These are two titans of the NFC who have locked in epic battles time after time. This year, there is an extra special interest given the drama following the two featured quarterbacks. Russell Wilson and the Seahawks' upper management appear to have diffused most of the tension that arose earlier in the year, just in time for Aaron Rodgers to take control of the headlines with his own grievances against his franchise. As of now, that drama wildfire rages on.
There is no guarantee Rodgers will be the quarterback for the Packers when this game happens. Certainly, the 12s hope he heads to the AFC and removes Green Bay as a major roadblock in the NFC for the time being.
Either way, it's always a classic when these two meet. They last saw each other in the divisional round of the 2019 playoffs, when the Packers held on for a slim victory at Lambeau Field.
Week 13: vs. 49ers, Sunday Night Football
Anyone who thinks the 49ers won't be a threat in the NFC West in 2021 clearly isn't paying attention. This could be a pivotal game in deciding who wins the division this season, much like it is most years. San Francisco endured a litany of injuries in 2020, which includes quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo - who played just six games all year - just one season removed from winning the NFC and playing in the Super Bowl.
Head coach Kyle Shanahan will have this team back in contention, be it with Garoppolo or their shiny new first-round pick, Trey Lance, under center.
Lance throws in a whole new spice to this matchup. If he impresses early on, he will likely grab hold of the reins to San Francisco's offense by the time this primetime matchup rolls around. He's a wild card.
The last time these two rivals met under the lights of Sunday Night Football, the division title was decided by one yard. It's bound to be an epic struggle, as always.