Though the process was delayed a bit compared to a normal year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NFL finally released official 2020 schedules in early May.
Set to travel more miles than any other team this season, the Seahawks will play out of conference games against the AFC East, non-divisional games against the NFC East, and six divisional games. In addition, they'll face two non-common opponents from the NFC North and NFC South.
Preparing for the new campaign, we will be dissecting each of Seattle's upcoming opponents over the next several weeks. Coming off a tough out of conference game in Buffalo, coach Pete Carroll's team faces another stiff NFC West road test against the NFC West rival Los Angeles Rams in Week 10.
Los Angeles Rams
2019 Record: 9-7, Third in NFC West
Last Meeting with Seahawks: 28-12 win in Week 14
Nothing went right for Seattle from the outset at the Los Angeles Coliseum, as running back Rashaad Penny tore his ACL on the opening drive and a promising opening drive led to just a Jason Myers field goal. From that point on, Jared Goff diced up the Seahawks defense, throwing two first half touchdown passes to Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp to give the Rams a 21-3 halftime advantage. A 55-yard pick six by safety Quandre Diggs gave Seattle a bit of life early in the third quarter, but Russell Wilson couldn't get untracked all night as the team failed to find the end zone once on offense. A touchdown by Todd Gurley early in the fourth all but sealed the eventual defeat, dropping the Seahawks to 10-3 on the season.
Season in Review: Coming off a Super Bowl loss to New England, Los Angeles opened the season looking poised to make another run at a championship. Sean McVay's team won each of its first three games, including beating New Orleans 27-9 in Week 2. But after a 3-0 start, three straight losses dropped the Rams back to .500, including a gut-wrenching one-point loss to the Seahawks at CenturyLink Field in Week 5. Their victory in the Week 14 rematch propelled them back to 8-5 and within striking distance of a Wild Card in the NFC. Two straight losses to the Cowboys and 49ers doomed them, however, and a Week 17 win over the Cardinals didn't matter as they missed the postseason for the first time since 2016.
Key Additions: DE Leonard Floyd, DT A'Shawn Robinson
Strapped for cash, the Rams haven't been very active this offseason adding veterans and only have made two outside free agent signings thus far. A former first-round pick for the Bears, Floyd will likely fill the void left by Dante Fowler, who departed to join the Falcons in March. Seeking extra depth and size in the interior of their defensive line, the Rams also signed Robinson, a former starter for the Lions who produced 172 tackles in his first four NFL seasons.
Key Departures: RB Todd Gurley, WR Brandin Cooks, DE Dante Fowler Jr., LB Corey Littleton
In an effort to create much-needed cap relief, Los Angeles parted ways with a lot of star power over the past few months. Dealing with a bulky knee and coming off a down season, the Rams decided to release Gurley, who eventually signed with Atlanta. After battling injuries in recent years, Cooks was shipped to the Texans along with a fourth-round pick in exchange for a 2020 second-round pick. Defensively, Fowler and Littleton both proved to be too expensive for the Rams to keep, signing multi-year free agent contracts with the Falcons and Raiders respectively. Among other players to leave, the team will also have to replace kicker Greg Zuerlein, nickel cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman, linebacker Clay Matthews, and retired safety Eric Weddle.
Notable 2020 Draft Picks: RB Cam Akers, WR Van Jefferson, LB Terrell Lewis
For a second straight season, the Rams used a high draft pick on a running back by tabbing Akers as a potential long-term replacement for Gurley. The former Florida State star rushed for over 1,100 yards and 14 touchdowns in his final collegiate season. Viewed as one of the best route runners in this draft class, Jefferson will compete for snaps behind Woods and Kupp right away on the outside. Injuries were a problem for Lewis at Alabama, but at 260-plus pounds, he's an outstanding athlete with immense potential rushing off the edge if he can stay healthy.
Prognosis: Just two years removed from being the class of the NFC, McVay and the Rams face a pivotal season in a division that has continued to improve. Losing a number of key players such as Gurley and Fowler could certainly hurt, especially if Goff doesn't bounce back from a pedestrian season in which he threw just 22 touchdowns in comparison to 16 interceptions. Having their quarterback return to his 2018 Pro Bowl form will be critical to the Rams chances of competing in the NFC West and if he does that and a handful of young players effectively step into vacant starting roles, there's still plenty of talent on both sides of the ball for this team to be in the mix for a playoff spot. The Seahawks should expect nothing less than two tightly-contested battles when these teams play in Week 10 and Week 16.