CenturyLink Field will be packed and louder than ever on Sunday evening. The Seahawks host the San Francisco 49ers in a much-anticipated match-up.
KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says this game may very well be a preview of the NFC championship battle this season.
Rivalry Taken to New Level
Art says there's a good reason this game has been put in the Sunday Night Football spotlight.
"These are the two teams that most pundits picked for being the NFC entrant into the Super Bowl," he said. "They both had great seasons last year. They both have young talent. And their coaches hate each other. That's always fun."
Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh have a rivalry that dates back to their college coaching days when Carroll was at USC and Harbaugh was at Stanford. After a game in which Carroll believed Harbaugh was running up the score, Carroll angrily asked him "What's your deal?" It's been "on" ever since.
Art says Sunday's game will live up to all the hype.
"These are the two best teams and this game has been circled on every NFL fan's calendar since the schedule came out in April," Art said.
Tale of Two Quarterbacks
The game will be focused on both teams' second-year quarterbacks.
Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson is described as a natural leader who's always polite, positive and extremely prepared.
"I call him the human Hallmark card," Art jokes. "Because he's got all these aphorisms that he spouts. And it could be real easy to be cynical about it but he believes all these things."
Art says 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is "a very different cat."
"He's a much more casual guy; he's not as intense a leader," Art said. "Russell Wilson embraces leadership. Colin Kaepernick is reluctant. But he's a very talented guy."
"They both have similar games. They both have extremely strong arms. They're very agile runners, and their running games are part of the weapon," Art said. "It really makes a difference in the game planning. Both of these guys - even though they're contrasting personalities - are the heart and soul of their teams."
12th Man Going for Record
Seahawks fans are going for a Guinness World Record for loudest crowd roar at a sports stadium—130 decibels.
"CenturyLink Field is normally very, very noisy," Art said. "Now they're going to really insist on hitting some peaks. If that happens it will be a great time and I also think it's going to have an effect on the game. That much audio is very intimidating and that's a big part of the reason the 49ers lost (to the Seahawks) 42-13 last December."
Prediction: Seahawks win
Art thinks the Seahawks will beat the 49ers 24-17.
"I think Seattle's got better talent. 49ers are a good, solid team but I really do think Seattle's defense is going to be able to bottle up Kaepernick," he said.