Seattle Seahawks' 2015 schedule not as difficult as it could have been

In this age of parity and the NFL being particularly and purposefully tough on defending conference champs, the Seahawks’ 2015 schedule isn’t that bad.

In fact, it’s almost favorable.

Sure, Seattle begins with two road games — at division rival St. Louis in the opener Sept. 13, then at Green Bay Sept. 20 in a Sunday-night showcase and rematch of January’s thrilling NFC title game that ended in overtime. But the positive flip side to that start? Seattle will have five of its final eight games at home.

That includes having three consecutive regular-season home games for the first time since 2011 and only the second time in 11 years.

Arizona, San Francisco and Pittsburgh — a bitter rival, another NFC West foe and a second playoff team from 2014, in that order — are coming to CenturyLink Field on consecutive Sundays in November. That is immediately after Seattle’s bye in Week 9.

That’s an optimal place any team would choose for its one break in the season if they could: exactly midway through the schedule, following eight games and preceding the final eight.

Last year, Seattle’s bye was at the most challenging spot: the earliest possible date, following the third game.

The Seahawks’ home opener is Sept. 27 against the Chicago Bears. That’s the latest date for a first regular-season home game in franchise’s history.

The NFL decided not to put Seattle on the road for three of the first four games, though it easily could have.

On Oct. 4, the fourth Sunday of the regular season, the NFL was pinched into having to keep the Seahawks from a home game. That’s because the Seattle Sounders of Major League Soccer are already scheduled for a game at CenturyLink Field that night, and Major League Baseball’s Mariners have a home game next door at Safeco Field that afternoon.

So instead, the NFL gave Seattle a home Monday night game for that week, against Detroit and former Seahawks receiver Golden Tate on ESPN.

That’s one of five prime-time games the Seahawks have on their 2015 schedule. The others: a Thursday night game at San Francisco in Week 7, home on a Sunday night against Arizona in Week 10 and at Baltimore on a Sunday night for Week 14. It will be the Seahawks’ first game in Baltimore since 2003.

The regular season ends as it did last year, with NFC West games. The Seahawks host the Rams on Dec. 27 — the fourth consecutive season that the final regular-season home game is against the Rams. Seattle finishes the regular season at Arizona on Jan. 3.

Based on records from last season for their opponents in 2015, the Seahawks have the league’s fourth-toughest schedule. The top five: Pittsburgh (whose 2015 foes had a .578 combined winning percentage in ’14), Cincinnati (.563), San Francisco (.561), Seattle (.559) and Arizona (.557).