Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando
Power Rankings: Preseason: 14. This week: 25.
Where they stand: The Seahawks are 3-5 and third in the NFC West after beating the Rams, Jaguars and Lions (the 49ers are also 3-5, but they hold the tiebreaker based on head-to-head results). Seattle probably needs to beat the Cardinals in Week 10 to consider itself part of the division race. The 49ers and Cardinals have already beaten Seattle. The Seahawks have already lost twice at home. This team is running out of second chances. Losing a tough game at home to the Bears in Week 3 proved costly.
Disappointments: The team's inability to shake its recent injury problems devastated Seattle early in the season. The bigger disappointment for the Seahawks might come in the realization that getting key players healthy isn't necessarily going to make a big difference. Some of the problems on offense are easily explained by constant injury-related shuffling on the line, highlighted by Walter Jones' inability to return from knee surgery. That has contributed to underwhelming production in the running game after Seattle adopted more zone-blocking concepts. On defense, the Seahawks were supposed to be better. Linemen Brandon Mebane and Cory Redding enjoyed strong training camps. Neither has stood out much to this point. Defensive end Darryl Tapp has faded some after initially transferring a strong camp into a good start to the season.
Surprises: Linebacker David Hawthorne qualifies as the biggest surprise for Seattle -- by a wide margin. Losing veteran middle linebacker Lofa Tatupu to a season-ending injury would have seemed catastrophic a couple years ago. Hawthorne has arguably provided an upgrade. He has two sacks and two interceptions in his past two games. The energy and intensity he brings stand out. Receiver Nate Burleson has bounced back strong from knee surgery, developing into the Seahawks' most productive receiver. He is the only wide receiver on the team with a reception of 35 yards or longer. To have Burleson leading the team in receptions and receiving yards is somewhat surprising after the team signed T.J. Houshmandzadeh in free agency.
Outlook: This was supposed to be the point in the season when the Seahawks started to get healthy and hit stride. It could happen. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck gives the Seahawks a chance to compete and win games against quite a few teams. The overall offensive consistency has not been there, however. Sometimes the Seahawks almost appear resigned to their fate, as if beaten down by all the injuries and defeats dating to last season. I haven't sensed an edge to this team. Confidence appears shaky. And with upcoming road games against Arizona and Minnesota, it's likely the Seahawks will fall further from contention.