Seahawks’ recent losses got you down? Here are 5 reasons for optimism

SEATTLE - The Seattle Seahawks have lost two of their last three games.

They have yet to sustain a running game.

Their once-vaunted defense is riddled with injuries, and they enter this week on the outside of the chase for an NFC playoff spot at 6-4.

After kicker Blair Walsh’s 52-yard, game-tying field goal attempt fell short against the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, some fans and pundits have started to write Seattle off.

But there are plenty reasons to be optimistic.

Here are five:

1. They're playing the 49ers

The Seahawks' opponent Sunday is the San Francisco 49ers. The Seahawks may have regressed from the days they battled the 49ers for NFC supremacy, but the Niners have free-fallen into oblivion.

At 1-9, the only thing San Francisco is chasing is next year’s No. 1 overall draft pick.

San Francisco is starting C.J. Beathard at quarterback even though it traded for New England backup Jimmy Garoppolo. The rookie from Iowa has thrown four touchdowns and five interceptions.

The Seahawks' secondary is in transition, with Richard Sherman and Kam Chancellor out and veterans Jeremy Lane and Byron Maxwell starting at the corners. A rookie at QB could be just what they need.

It’s only one game, but every streak has to start somewhere.

2. A healthy turn

After sitting five games with a knee injury, veteran offensive lineman Luke Joeckel will return Sunday for the Seahawks.

Seattle’s offensive line has been a work in progress the past few years, but this season the team’s inability to run the football has approached historic levels.

After 10 games, quarterback Russell Wilson leads the team with 376 yards on the ground. Second is rookie Chris Carson with 208 yards, despite the fact he’s been on injured reserve since Week 5.

After trading for pro bowl left tackle Duane Brown, the Seahawks rushing attack has shown signs of life. Coach Pete Carroll expects the combination of Brown and Joeckel to help push the running game off life support.

“It will be the first chance to get to see (Joeckel) and Duane playing side-by-side, which will be fun,” Carroll said. “I’m really excited to get those guys out there.”

3. Wilson, Russell Wilson

Speaking of Wilson, Seattle’s signal caller may be playing the best season of this career.

The Seahawks’ inability to run the ball has forced the team to throw far more than usual. Wilson is on pace to set career highs in attempts, completions and yards.

He’s started to find Jimmy Graham in the red zone, connecting with the Pro Bowl tight end for seven touchdowns the past six weeks.

Wilson has willed the offense into the end zone, seemingly by himself at times. Despite the team’s limitations in the running game, it ranks seventh in the NFL in yards and 10th in points.

The franchise invested heavily in Wilson after the 2014 season and the sixth-year QB has not let the team down.

He’s never missed a game. He’s on pace this year to account for a higher percentage of offense for one team than any player since the NFL merger.

Wilson has shined the most late in games, throwing 13 of his 21 touchdowns in the fourth quarter. That’s two shy of the NFL record.

All of it has added up to MVP talk around the country for Seattle’s star QB. Most importantly for the Seahawks, however, Wilson’s incredible play means they are never out of it.

4. Two-team race

Seattle may be battling for a playoff spot in a crowded NFC, but its only obstacle to win the division is the Los Angeles Rams.

The Seahawks beat L.A. on the road in Week 5, which means the team still controls its fate in the NFC West.

While Seattle takes on the Niners this week, the Rams battle to 8-2 New Orleans. If the Seahawks win and Rams lose, both teams will be tied atop the West.

Like Seattle, Los Angeles still has to play the 9-1 Eagles and the other teams in the NFC West again.

The two teams schedules are so similar, the divisional race will likely come down to their second meeting.

So mark your calendars for Dec. 17, the day the Rams come to CenturyLink Field.

Nothing will be decided until then.

5. Been there, done it

The last time the Seahawks were 6-4 they won six games in a row, claimed the No. 1-seed in the NFC and made the Super Bowl. That was 2014.

Will that happen this year? Probably not, but given their track record it’s certainly possible.

Since Wilson took over as quarterback in 2012 the Seahawks have gone 23-7 over the final six games of each season combined.

That includes Wilson’s rookie year, which was the only other time Seattle was 6-4 with him as the quarterback. That year the Seahawks went 5-1 down the stretch.

In 2015, the Seahawks won six of their final seven games to turn 4-5 into 10-6.

If they’ve proven anything over the years, Seattle has shown an ability to finish seasons strongly.

No doubt, the memory of year’s past is in many of the player’s minds heading into the stretch run.

“There’s a lot more football to play,” Wilson said after Monday’s loss to the Falcons. “We can’t get discouraged now.”