Here's a look at the first half of the season for the Seattle Seahawks and a preview of what to expect in the second half:
First-half snapshot: The first half of Seattle's season has followed a familiar pattern, with strong quarterback play and a mostly dominant defense allowing the Seahawks to win games despite a young and often overmatched offensive line. One difference: This Seattle offense hasn't been able to mount much of a running game like some of its predecessors did despite being challenged up front. Fortunately for the Seahawks, Russell Wilson, Seattle's passing game and the Legion of Boom have been able to pick up the slack. At 5-3, the Seahawks have the same number of victories they've averaged at the midpoint of every season since 2012. Grade: Average.
Midseason MVP: There's a case to be made for a member of Seattle's defense, which carried the team through stretches of offensive inconsistency. Free safety Earl Thomas, cornerback Richard Sherman and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner are all having All-Pro-caliber seasons, but Wilson gets the first-half MVP nod here. He has led two winning touchdown drives in the fourth quarter and is on pace to approach his career high in touchdown passes. After ankle and knee injuries reduced his mobility last season, Wilson is back to making plays with his legs, something he has needed to do behind an offensive line that has again struggled to protect him.
Best moment: The finish to Seattle's 41-38 win against Houston in Week 8. Deshaun Watson was incredible while throwing for more than 400 yards and repeatedly beating Seattle's defense deep, but Wilson was even better, especially as he led an 80-yard touchdown drive to win after Seattle took over with no timeouts and 1:39 left. Paul Richardson made a fantastic adjustment to haul in a 48-yard catch, and then Wilson found Tyler Lockett for 19 yards and hit a wide-open Jimmy Graham for the game winner. "He never stopped fighting," Sherman said of Wilson, who had thrown an interception on the previous drive. "He stayed poised, the offense executed, and they won the game for us. They bailed us out. They bailed us out in a big way."
Worst moment: Dishonorable mention goes to the second half of Seattle's 33-27 loss to Tennessee in Week 3, when the Seahawks' defense was uncharacteristically gashed for three long touchdowns on three straight possessions. The worst moment came when running back Chris Carson went down with an ankle injury a week later. The rookie seventh-round pick had beaten Thomas Rawls and Eddie Lacy to be Seattle's starter. He's on injured reserve while recovering from ankle surgery and might not be able to return to finish a rookie season that began with a lot of promise.
Second-half outlook: The acquisition of Duane Brown in a trade with Houston gave Seattle a significant upgrade at left tackle. One player can make only so much of a difference, but Brown -- a three-time Pro Bowl selection -- should help mitigate some of the issues in pass protection and run blocking that had held Seattle's offense back. The Seahawks are in good shape for another playoff run. They have a road victory over the Rams, who look like the only legitimate threat to keep Seattle from winning the NFC West for the fourth time in five seasons, and the rest of the conference is wide open. That Brown trade and the one Seattle made for Sheldon Richardson suggested a level of urgency to win now. With their biggest weakness addressed and a clear path to a home playoff game, the Seahawks are in position to do so.