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Rookie-led Seahawks poised for playoffs

Mike Groll
AP Photo

The Seahawks will be in the national spotlight when they host the San Francisco 49ers for Sunday Night Football on NBC.

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel says it's going to be an intense, high-scoring game that should live up to the hype. Not to mention that the Seahawks could seal a wildcard playoff berth with a win.

'Game of the season'

Art says both teams are coming off big wins.

"It's really been remarkable what both teams have done to make a lot of interest, nationally and locally, in this game."

The Seahawks have had back-to-back, 50-point wins. They beat the Bills 50-17 last Sunday in Toronto and the Cardinals 58-0 two weeks ago. The 49ers beat Tom Brady and the Patriots at New England 41-34 last Sunday.

Art stresses that this Sunday's game is not for the division title. San Francisco just needs to win one of its last two games to clinch the NFC West. Even if they lose to the Hawks, Art thinks they'll beat the Cardinals at home the next week.

The Seahawks are poised for a wild card playoff berth. They need just one win in their last two games. And fans would love to see it come this Sunday against their division rivals.

The 12th man factor

Art thinks the volume at CenturyLink Field will be especially troublesome for the 49ers' quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who's only been a starter for half the season.

"He's never heard a crowd like this. He's going to have to adjust to not being able to communicate verbally. That usually involves hand signals and that gets to be difficult for a rookie quarterback. So, big advantage to Seattle."

Rookie sensation

A big part of the Seahawks's success this season has been rookie quarterback Russell Wilson.

"He has been remarkable. There have been so many things he's done that I just haven't seen, really, from veteran quarterbacks. Just last week against Buffalo, he ran the ball nine times for 92 yards. Not only was that a record for a Seahawks quarterback, he didn't get tackled!"

Art thinks Wilson will be one of the three finalists for the NFL's Rookie of the Year, along with top draft pick Andrew Luck (Colts) and Heisman Trophy winner and No. 2 draft pick Robert Griffin III (Redskins).

"You can break it down statistically to say Russell Wilson is one of the top five quarterbacks in the game, veteran or rookie, and certainly on a par with Griffin and Luck. It's going to be a close competition. We're going to need the final two weeks to determine who is the best rookie."

You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest.

Kirsten Kendrick has been hosting Morning Edition on KNKX/KPLU since 2006. She has worked in news radio for more than 30 years. Kirsten is also a sports lover. She handles most sports coverage at the station, including helping produce a two-part series on the 50th anniversary of Title IX and the ongoing series "Going Deep."
Art Thiel is a co-founder and writer for the rising sports website Sportspress Northwest. In 2003 Thiel wrote the definitive book about the Seattle Mariners, “Out of Left Field,” which became a regional bestseller. In 2009, along with Steve Rudman and KJR 950 afternoon host Mike Gastineau, Thiel authored “The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists,” a cross between and Mad Magazine that has become mandatory reading for any sports fan who has an indoor bathroom.
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