The Seahawks take on the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas, Saturday night in the NFC wild-card playoff game. KNKX sports commentator Art Thiel talked with Morning Edition host Kirsten Kendrick about the matchup.
Thiel was surprised that the Seahawks made it to the playoffs this season. "I said they were going to be 8-8 at the beginning of the year," he said.
"My main thought that they were going to be decent was the fact that their commitment to the running game was real and I could see the players that they assembled would be able to execute on coach Pete Carroll's prime directive of running the ball.
"What I didn't see coming was the maturing of a defense that was missing so many of their stars from the Legion of Boom days.
"But they managed to be average, which is really a big feat when you're talking about replacing people like Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas, Kam Chancellor, Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril. And they got to be respectable.
"It's not a great defense but it's good. And they managed to come up with an amazing feat. They lead the NFL in turnover ratio. They had 24 takeaways this year and gave up the ball only 11 times.
"That's where they've found the great equalizer because they gave up a lot of yards and they will give up a lot of yards, I think, Saturday to the Cowboys."
Thiel said the vulnerability for the Seahawks right now is the team's secondary. Two key players, Delano Hill and Shaquill Griffin, were injured in the final regular season game against the Arizona Cardinals. Despite that, he said it's an even matchup.
"Both teams are 10-6. The Cowboys won seven of their final eight games," he said.
"The Seahawks won six of their final seven. So, they have young players who are growing into the season and it's really been remarkable how similar it is.
"But the Seahawks have, believe it or not, 28 players who've never been in a playoff game before. That's how much the roster has churned since the Seahawks made the playoffs in 2016.
"So, there's a lot of new people and there's vulnerability, obviously, with inexperience but I do think the Seahawks have mastered the art of executing on offense to the point where, I think, they're going to pull it out. I think it's going to be something like 20-17.
"Even though it's home field (for the Cowboys), the great thing about (AT&T Stadium) in Arlington, Texas, is it's indoors! There's not going to be any rain, wind or snow to interrupt a January playoff game and I think that's going to help the Seahawks a lot."