<
>

Despite shaky start, Seahawks in position to make a run

RENTON, Wash. -- Pete Carroll seemed offended Wednesday when a reporter suggested that his Seattle Seahawks getting back to .500 might be viewed as some type of accomplishment.

"I feel horrible about that we’re still there, we’re still trying to get there," Carroll said. "It’s too long into the season. But if we can turn it now and get that going, then we’ll try to make a big push and keep focusing. It’s one week at a time. None of these games are more important than the only one we’ve got right now. So we’re going to crank it up for that one, and we’ll see where we are after that. But we’re not really talking ... it’s not like the battle cry, like ‘Let’s get to .500.’ Not really the way we talk."

Coming off of back-to-back Super Bowl appearances, the first seven weeks did not go according to Carroll's plan. The Seahawks' season has been shaped by poor finishes, defensive lapses and an inconsistent offense. If the playoffs started today, they'd be on the outside looking in.

Yet here they are approaching their Week 8 matchup with the Dallas Cowboys in position to make a run and become the team they think they should be.

The biggest advantage the Seahawks have right now is their health. Barring an injury this week during practice, they will go into Sunday's game with all of their starters available. They went a couple games without running back Marshawn Lynch, and middle linebacker Bobby Wagner missed the Panthers matchup, but overall this has been a very healthy roster when compared to the other 31 teams around the league.

Strength of schedule can be deceiving because the quality of each opponent changes on a weekly basis, depending largely on injuries. But according to Football Outsiders, the Seahawks' remaining strength of schedule ranks 18th. Aside from possibly the season finale in Arizona, they will likely be favored in every game.

"Every week when you’re a Seahawk, you’re playing against everybody’s best," said defensive lineman Michael Bennett. "They look, they mark that up. It’s the opposite of a homecoming game. It’s one of those games where it’s almost like a Super Bowl for them. They want to beat us, they want to show it’s a turning point for their team, and we have to be ready for that. We can’t let anything mess our judgement up, and believing is one of the most important things."

Defensively, the Seahawks rank eighth in Football Outsiders' efficiency ratings. That's not a bad mark considering safety Kam Chancellor missed the first two games, and the team suffered meltdowns down the stretch against Carolina and Cincinnati.

Offensively, the team has improved in the second half the past two seasons. It's unlikely that the offensive line is going to turn into a strength, but it's reasonable to expect the inexperienced players to improve with more reps.

The Seahawks get a Matt Cassel-led Cowboys team this week with a chance enter the bye week at 4-4. The three-game stretch (all at home) after that will likely signal whether they are ready to make some noise or are simply not the team they've been the past couple years. The Seahawks play the Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers and Pittsburgh Steelers at CenturyLink Field.

"For me, I feel like, when you go to the Super Bowl twice, anything less than getting back to the championship is a waste of time," Bennett said. "If we’re going to be here, let’s go to the dance. If it’s not, then we should just all stay home. That’s kind of my mindset. If we’re going to do this, let’s do it all the way. Let’s not half-hearted do it. Let’s go out here, whoop people’s asses and come home and watch 'Walking Dead.'"