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Why just 1 prime-time home game for the Seahawks?

By Brady Henderson

There's been a common theme in the prime-time games Seattle has hosted in recent seasons: they've been decidedly uncompetitive.

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Five of the six prime-time games Seattle has hosted since 2011 have been lopsided wins, including a 34-7 beatdown of the Saints last season on "Monday Night Football". (AP)
Seattle is 6-0 when taking center stage during the regular season at CenturyLink Field since 2011, winning all but one of those games in blowout fashion. ProFootballTalk.com reports that trend led the NFL to give Seattle only one prime-time home game in 2014, the league reportedly wary of scheduling its most visible matchups in a setting that has produced such one-sided outcomes.

The Seahawks will begin the season with a Thursday-night home game – as is the tradition for reigning Super-Bowl champions – against the Packers. But their other three prime-time games are on the road: Week 5 against Washington on Monday night, Week 13 at San Francisco on Thanksgiving night and Week 16 at Arizona on Sunday night.

This represents a change from recent seasons as defending champions have been given at least two – and sometimes three – prime-time home games. Therein lies what has been the loudest gripe among Seahawks fans since regular-season schedules were announced Wednesday.

Whether or not it's fair to the Seahawks, it's easy to see why the NFL might prefer to feature the Seahawks on the road as opposed to at CenturyLink Field. The Seahawks have won by an average of nearly 20 points the six prime-time games they've hosted since 2011. Only one of them – Seattle's 14-12 win over Green Bay in 2012 – was decided by fewer than 17 points.

By comparison, the Seahawks are 2-1 in road prime-time games during that stretch, the two wins coming by 12 and five points.

While all those blowout wins were certainly fun for Seahawks fans, they lacked the suspense that the NFL seeks when setting prime-time matchups that are seen by a national audience.

There's another likely factor in the Seahawks' so-called prime-time snub: the logistical challenges presented when creating 32 different schedules that all affect each other, must satisfy numerous requirements and must avoid certain restrictions.

According to Peter King of TheMMQB.com, 500,000 possible master schedules were considered, and this year's "second-place finisher" included a brutal midseason stretch of three straight road games for Seattle, one of which would have been played on a short week. That possible schedule had the Seahawks traveling more than 11,000 miles while playing in St. Louis, in Washington on a Monday night then in Kansas City.

That means that only getting one prime-time home game might have been the better of two less-than-ideal situations.

In other words, perhaps it was just the way the schedule cookie crumbled.

Follow Brady Henderson on Twitter @BradyHenderson.

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