Sports with Art Thiel
5:00 am
Fri January 17, 2014

Why Seahawks-49ers Game Is 'Biggest Game In Seattle Sports History'

Sports with Art Thiel weekly commentary

KPLU sports commentator Art Thiel calls Sunday’s NFC Championship Game between the Seahawks and 49ers "the biggest game in Seattle sports history.”

Anticipation

Art said this game is different from the 2006 NFC Championship Game against the Carolina Panthers that sent the Seahawks to their first Super Bowl. And it’s different from the 1996 NBA title battle between the Sonics and the Bulls. Those games didn't have the buildup of Sunday's matchup.

"This game has been anticipated for a year, since the Seahawks were eliminated from the playoffs. Everyone has been expecting this to happen, and it so rarely does in sports," Art said. "Both teams have avoided pratfalls and a lot of injuries, so that they're the two best teams in the NFC and they're playing very well."

Emotion

There's also been a buildup of emotions surrounding this matchup because the Seahawks and 49ers are division rivals. And there's no love lost.

"These two teams hate each other. You're going to see it in the game," Art said. "I've never felt, seen a game so anticipated and so dreaded, I think, by a lot of fans because the anxiety is just tearing people up. It's just really hard to manage this week with people's sports emotions."

Evenly Matched

An analysis by Sportspress Northwest shows that the Seahawks and 49ers are about as evenly matched as can be.

"These teams are very well-balanced. They're almost identical in approach: the emphasis on defense, running the ball, special teams and, oh by the way, there's the offense," Art said.

"If I had to pick one thing that is going to be decisive, it's whether the Seahawks can continue to force mistakes by San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick. He's had seven turnovers in the two [regular season] games and Seattle has had four. It comes down to whether Kaepernick will make a sufficient number of mistakes for Seattle to capitalize."

And The Winner Will Be...

"It's really a tough call, but I'm going to go with Seattle," Art said.

"San Francisco's won eight in a row. They've won three games in a row on the road. They're playing as well as they've ever played. But I do think the crowd is a difference-maker," he said. "I see Seattle winning something like 16-13. I think there's enough going in Seattle's favor to get them to a second Super Bowl."

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The game begins at 3:30 Sunday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle. It will be broadcast on Q13 FOX. You can find Art Thiel’s work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.