Whack-a-mole is a fun game for kids at Chuck E. Cheese or at a carnival, frantically trying to bop mechanical pests on the head as they pop in and out of holes unexpectedly, testing a child's reflexes and focus.
It's not fun, however, when those moles are problems on a football team with your head coach holding the mallet trying to bash out those issues ahead of a possible January playoff run.
The Seahawks sit at 8-4 and the fifth seed in the NFC, with games against the winless Jets and two other losing teams mixed in with a rematch against the Los Angeles Rams that could decide who wins the NFC West. To the naked eye, that's a positive position to be in. Had Seattle fans been asked if they would've taken this scenario before the season, most of them would've obliged. However, had you told them that after a torrid 5-0 start with the MVP front-runner at quarterback, Seattle would be 8-4 and in second place in the division, they would've been disappointed.
The Seahawks have serious issues, there's no doubt about it. They look much more mortal than the Kansas City Chiefs, Pittsburgh Steelers, or New Orleans Saints. In fact, they will need to kick it into a different gear to even win the division at this point. The frustrating part is how these issues have come to light and when.
First, it was the defense that allowed over a mind-blowing 370 passing yards per game during the first five contests, all of which were wins for the Seahawks. They also allowed 27 points per game during that stretch. Seattle was on pace to shatter the single-season record for passing yards and total yards allowed and still very well could eclipse that record.
After a rough stretch where Seattle lost two of three, the offense came out of it looking like the inept unit. Since a disastrous loss to the Bills in Buffalo, the defense has been allowing just 205 passing yards and just 19.5 points per game along with 24 sacks in their last six games. With Jamal Adams healthy and the addition of Carlos Dunlap, the defense looks like a completely rejuvenated unit in the last month or so.
On the other hand, something is clearly wrong with the same offense that looked absolutely unbeatable to start the season. Russell Wilson was leading the NFL in just about every offensive category through seven games. He averaged 289 passing yards, 3.7 passing touchdowns per game, and a 118.7 passer rating. Since a Week 8 win against the 49ers, Wilson is down to 241 yards and 1.2 touchdowns per game with a lowly 86.0 rating. Seattle is also 2-3 during that stretch.
The unfortunate reality is that, no matter how good or bad the defense is, the Seahawks live and die with how Wilson and this offense performs. We all assumed once this defense got fixed, Seattle would be on a path to the Super Bowl with how amazing this offense looked. But that hasn't been the case at all and the team is running out of time to put everything together.
Now the Seahawks face the winless Jets before a Washington team that just gave the Steelers their first loss. Then they square off against the first place Rams before ending the season on the road against the 49ers. Not even a playoff berth is secured at this point. Seattle still has a chance at the number one seed in the NFC, but a scenario also exists that has the Seahawks outside of the playoff picture altogether. A lot can happen in the last month of the season.
It seemed as if right when the defensive issues got ironed out, the offense began to sputter. It's a cruel game of whack-a-mole, except the stakes aren't the amount of tickets you get to redeem at the end of your day at the family fun center. It's whether or not the Seahawks win the NFC West for the first time since 2016 and where they fall in the NFC playoff picture.