As the two-time defending NFC champs, the Seahawks can expect to feel hunted. While most player in the NFL will publicly say that one regular season game doesn't matter anymore than another, you can be sure that the Green Bay Packers and Carolina Panthers took special joy in exacting a bit of revenge on the Seahawks this season after Seattle pushed each out of the playoffs a year ago.
Which is why the Seahawks may have a little extra motivation this week against the Dallas Cowboys - the only team to walk into CenturyLink last season and win.
The Cowboys didn't do anything exotic to beat the Seahawks. Tony Romo was more accurate than Russell Wilson. DeMarco Murray ran for more yards than Marshawn Lynch. The Cowboys defense was more physical and aggressive. Essentially, the Cowboys "out-Seahawked" the Seahawks.
Pete Carroll acknowledged as much after the October 12, 2014 showdown.
"They played really well and they did a lot of cool stuff for their football team in all phases, and we were not right, really, in any phase of our game today," Carroll said.
Of course, this year's Cowboys team is much different.
It will be either Matt Cassel or Brandon Weeden leading the Cowboys at quarterback this week against the Seahawks while Romo is recovering from a broken clavicle. After allowing Murray to jump to the Philadelphia Eagles in free agency, the Cowboys have shuffled Darren McFadden, Joseph Randle and former Seahawk Christine Michael as part of a committee at the position.
Dez Bryant - who was targeted a game-high 10 times by Romo in Dallas' Week Six win a year ago - is considered questionable as he recovers from a broken foot.
Needless to say, without three of its most bankable stars, these Cowboys aren't as fearsome as last year's version. The Cowboys have dropped four in a row and opened up Monday as a 5.5 point home underdog to the Seahawks.
However, the style with which Dallas plays remains a concern for Seattle. The Cowboys boast arguably the NFL's best offensive line and their running game remains formidable. Despite the revolving door at running back, the Cowboys are averaging a healthy 4.5 yards per attempt and rank seventh in the NFL with 127.7 yards per game. Dallas has scored six touchdowns on the ground - twice as many as the Seahawks.
In Bryant's absence, Pro Bowl tight end Jason Witten has taken over as the team's top target. Given how much Seattle has struggled against tight ends this season, that's hardly welcome news, either.
Perhaps most concerning is Dallas' pass rush, which has been greatly aided in 2015 with the addition of former Carolina standout Greg Hardy as well as second-year edge rusher Demarcus Lawrence. And, in case you were wondering, the Cowboys are not expected to discipline Hardy for his sideline tantrum last week in a loss to the NY Giants.
Dallas' best defensive player - linebacker Sean Lee - is also back after missing last season with a torn ACL.
The Cowboys currently rank eighth in the league in total defense, allowing an average of just 339.3 yards per game; that's better than any of the opponents Seattle has faced to this point.
Dallas' special teams has also been very good. Cowboys' kicker Dan Bailey has the same 100% accuracy mark that Steven Hauschka boasts (albeit on six less attempts) and Dwayne Harris has returned a kickoff for a touchdown, just like Seattle's dynamic rookie Tyler Lockett.
With Romo (and possibly Bryant) sidelined, the Seahawks are fortunate to be playing the Cowboys now. This team is hardly the pushover that its recent four game slide might indicate, however.