A lot of talk in the football world this week has been centered on Seattle. The national spotlight started with the Seahawks on "Monday Night Football." And it continues through the weekend with a big game for the Washington Huskies.
We learn more in this week’s conversation between knkx sports commentator Art Thiel and 88.5’s Kirsten Kendrick.
'Great Excitement' For Huskies
"It's really been a remarkable season for Washington," Thiel said. "They're 9-0. They're ranked No. 4 in the latest college football playoff rankings.
"This is a relatively new thing, only in the last three years, where a panel of 12 starting in November ranks weekly the top 25 teams, four of which will make the playoffs.
"So there's great excitement about the land, especially in Montlake, for what the Huskies are accomplishing."
National Spotlight For UW
"This week [UW] is being 'honored' by ESPN's "GameDay," which is a Saturday morning TV show on ESPN that has become kind of a cult show where hundreds, even thousands, of students show up to be in the background of the show. So, that's going to be part of the scene.
"The big deal, of course, is the USC Trojans. The Trojans now have won five straight. They seem to be the second-best or third-best team in the Pac-12 Conference.
"The other team would be Washington State. We don't want to dis the Cougars. They are 23rd in that [playoff] poll. They've had a very successful season. Slow start, two losses. And that's the thing that's keeping them a little lower in the polls.
"Washington plays USC at 4:30[Saturday] and there's a whole lot of anticipation that if Washington [wins] they may even advance a little bit in the polls, depending on the big games for the three teams ahead of them.
"All of that is going to lead to a remarkable game at [Alaska Airlines Field at] Husky Stadium, which is sold out."
Seahawks Shine In Monday Night Football
Seattle has already been in the sports spotlight this week with the Seahawks winning their 11th straight Monday Night Football game, 31-25, over the Buffalo Bills.
"The "Monday Night" extravaganza was in Seattle. And then we have the "GameDay" thing. So, Seattle really is the center of the football universe for this week," Thiel said.
"It was a lot of fun covering that ["Monday Night Football"] game simply because there was just so much goofiness associated with it.
"The Seahawks finally found a passing offense. And denied the Bills a field goal on a tremendously controversial play. The Bills were very irked that they were denied three points, which could've made a big difference at the end of the game. But, that was last Monday.
Patriots Will Be Tough To Beat
"Now we move to Sunday, where they play the 7-1 Patriots in Foxborough, which is going to be a very difficult thing, especially if the Seahawks don't come up with a running game somewhere on the flight from Seattle to Boston," Thiel continued.
"It's been categorized as a rematch of the infamous Super Bowl that shall not be named in Seattle. But it's really not because so much of the teams have changed.
"Still, the two coaches, Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, are, in my mind, the two best coaches in the NFL right now. Both of them really want to beat the other one. They won't ever say it. Won't ever admit it. But they are in a class by themselves so, naturally, they want to be at the head of that class.
"It's going to be a lot of fun to watch it. I think the Seahawks are seven-point underdogs for a very good reason. That's the biggest disparity in the pre-game odds that the Seahawks have had since 2012 when Russell Wilson was a rookie.
"I think the Patriots are going to prevail by 10-14 points. The Seahawks aren't hitting on all cylinders like the Patriots.
"But the Seahawks still will be in the driver's seat in the NFC West and have a chance to recover from any loss and continue what they've got going and, I think, improve a lot. They will get a running game when Thomas Rawls comes back from his injury.
"And I think it's still going to be a division championship in Seattle."
You can find Art Thiel's work at Sportspress Northwest and Crosscut.com.