The Seahawks will open their 2022 season by welcoming Russell Wilson back to Seattle on a Monday night, Sept. 12.
They will close it welcoming Bobby Wagner and the defending Super Bowl champion Rams to Seattle on either Jan. 7 or Jan. 8 — official date and time to be determined.
Those games were the highlights of the release of the 2022 regular season schedule, officially unveiled Thursday afternoon. The NFL had earlier announced that the Seahawks will play the first regular-season game in league history in Germany on Nov. 13 against Tampa Bay in Munich.
But maybe indicative of the low expectations for the Seahawks in the wake of the trade of Wilson and coming off a 7-10 season, Seattle has just two primetime games — the opener against Denver and a Thursday night game on Dec. 15 at home against the 49ers.
The matchup of Denver and Seattle was set long ago in the NFL’s scheduling formula.
But the game took on added resonance when Wilson was traded to Denver on March 8.
And the NFL — never one to miss a chance at maximizing hype — will try to get as much exposure out Wilson’s return to Seattle by putting it in the marquee Monday night time slot to open the season.
The Monday night opener against Denver will also be the debut for the broadcast team of Joe Buck and Troy Aikman on ESPN/ABC, with the network luring them away from FOX Sports in the offseason.
It is also only the second time in team history it has opened with a primetime game, the other coming in 2014 when Seattle hosted Green Bay on Thursday as the season kickoff game.
Denver was almost immediately installed as a 3.5-point favorite by sportsbetting.ag, and tickets just to get in the door were already going for $271 on Vivid Seats within an hour of the announcement of the game.
Here is Seattle’s entire 2022 schedule, which features a franchise-record nine home games with the NFL having gone to a 17-game schedule last season, in which conferences trade off having an extra home game each season — AFC in odd years and NFC in even years:
Sept. 12: vs. Denver, 5:15 p.m.
Sept. 18: at San Francisco, 1:05 p.m.
Sept. 25: vs. Atlanta, 1:25 p.m.
Oct. 9: at New Orleans, 10 a.m.
Oct. 16: vs Arizona, 1:05 p.m.
Oct. 23: at Los Angeles Chargers, 1:25 p.m.
Oct. 30: vs New York Giants, 1:25 p.m.
Nov. 6: at Arizona, 1:05 a.m.
Nov. 13: vs. Tampa Bay in Munich, 6:30 a.m.
Nov. 20: Bye week
Nov, 27: vs. Las Vegas Raiders, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 4: at Los Angeles Rams, 1:05 p.m.
Dec. 11: vs. Carolina Panthers, 1:25 p.m.
Dec. 15: vs. San Francisco 49ers, 5:15 p.m.
Dec. 24: at Kansas City, 10 a.m.
Jan. 1: vs. New York Jets, 1:05 p.m.
Jan 7/8: vs. Los Angeles Rams, time to be determined.
Wilson coming back to Seattle will rank right up there — if not at the top — of other noteworthy returns of iconic figures in the city’s sports history, along with that of Lenny Wilkens in 1972, Alex Rodriguez in 2001 and Ken Griffey Jr. in 2007, to name a few.
And for what it’s worth, the game will also be just the third between the two teams since Seattle beat the Broncos 43-8 in the Super Bowl following the 2013 season. Seattle beat Denver in overtime the following season, 26-20, while the Broncos beat the Seahawks in Denver to open the 2018 season, 27-24.
And while fans and football analysts will forever debate who won the trade, the game will undoubtedly serve as at least something of a referendum on which team is better off. While Denver got Wilson, the Seahawks got quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive end Shelby Harris in return as well as five draft picks, including two it used this year on left tackle Charles Cross (ninth overall), edge rusher Boye Mafe (40th).
Seattle also got pick 145 this year out of the trade, which it then dealt to Kansas City to move down and get another pick, then selecting edge rusher Tyreke Smith at 158 and receiver Dareke Young at 233.
Seattle also has Denver’s first- and second-round picks next year as part of the deal.
The Week 2 game at San Francisco will give Seattle an especially challenging opening to the season, with the 49ers coming off a run to the NFC title game a year ago.
But the Seahawks will also have four of their last five and five of their last seven at home, a forgiving end to the schedule if Seattle can get off to a good enough start to be in playoff contention.
And as expected, Seattle will have its bye week following the trip to Germany.
The Seahawks also announced their preseason schedule, which due to having nine regular-season home games means just one at home.
And because Seattle has often played AFC West teams in the preseason but this year plays the AFC West in the regular season, the preseason slate features games against teams the Seahawks won’t play in the regular season — Pittsburgh, Chicago and Dallas.
Seattle opens the preseason on Aug. 13 at Pittsburgh, hosts Chicago on Aug. 18 and closes the preseason against Dallas in Week 3, with the actual date to be announced later.