- Associated Press - Saturday, November 7, 2015

SEATTLE (AP) - For a moment, forget about the drama that has engulfed the Seattle Seahawks so far.

The holdout by Kam Chancellor that kept him on the sideline for two games. The hamstring injury to Marshawn Lynch that held him out twice as well, not to mention his 3.6 yards per carry average that ranks 38th among running backs.

The two car crashes, three fourth-quarter collapses and the leaky offensive line that has Russell Wilson on pace to be sacked 62 times.

There is one undeniable fact about the Seattle Seahawks that for the past three seasons has overshadowed any hiccups that might take place in the first half of the season.

Since 2012, no team in the NFC has a better record over the final eight games of the season than the Seahawks.

The Seahawks are 20-4 combined in games Nos. 9-16 since 2012. That’s tied with Denver for the best mark of any team in the NFL during that same stretch and better than New England, Cincinnati and Indianapolis, the next three teams on the list.

That is why there is and has been no panic along the way to Seattle’s 4-4 start. When the Seahawks were 0-2 and again 2-4 fans were feeling the anxiety but the players weren’t.

That doesn’t mean Seattle is naive to its problems.

Yes, there are concerns about the offensive line, depth on the defensive line, an erratic offense as a whole that has yet to put together a complete performance. And no one is going to rest on the idea that past history will be determining the final outcome of Seattle’s season.

But this is still much the same team that has a .833 winning percentage in the second half of the past three seasons and remains in control of what happens in the NFC West.

“We’ve got a long ways to go. We have so much talent. We have so much ability. But we still have a long ways to go,” Seattle wide receiver Doug Baldwin said. “Once we put it all together, really put it all together, it’s going to be really hard for teams to stop us.”

Seattle arrived at its bye after a rocky first half where being 4-4 comes with a mix of satisfaction and underachievement.

The satisfaction for Seattle comes from rebounding from those opening two defeats and knowing that its four losses came against teams with a combined 24-4 record.

But there is also the tinge of missed opportunities being unable to close out games against Carolina and Cincinnati that down the road could be the difference between Seattle being a playoff team with a home game, or potentially missing the playoffs all together.

“It’s unfortunate that it takes us a while,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “But what this is, is an opportunity to observe what it is like, to see where we’ve been, and to come back.”

After starting 0-2 with losses to St. Louis and Green Bay, the Seahawks did begin to believe there was a bit of a Super Bowl hangover.

That what happened on their final offensive play against New England did carry into this season. That was coupled with the holdout of Chancellor, one of the most respected voices in the locker room.

“I think that whenever you have a little doubt, that’s going to cloud your judgment and we can’t have that when we’re playing against great teams,” Seattle defensive end Michael Bennett said.

“Every week when you’re a Seahawk, you’re playing against everybody’s best. 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.”

Seattle gets a break with the schedule coming out of the bye. The Seahawks will play three straight games at home for the first time since 2011 and ninth time in franchise history.

They still have two games remaining with division-leading Arizona. Seattle also has remaining games with St. Louis and Minnesota, currently ahead of the Seahawks in the NFC standings.

If the Seahawks can win out, they will win the NFC West for the third straight year. And as their successful runs late in the past three seasons have shown that’s entirely possible.

“We have improvement that we can see that we’re really going to build on, and we’re hopeful and very healthy going in with a few exceptions,” Carroll said. “As we come out of this break, we should come out strong and be ready to go. It’s a big month of November, obviously, coming up.”

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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