They've been ridiculed for getting into the playoffs with a losing record. Their win over the Packers was a gift from replacement NFL referees. Their uniforms themselves inspire a reaction that spans from tolerable to terrible.

There are plenty of reasons not to believe in the 4-2 Seattle Seahawks. But it's not a fluke that they're tied atop the NFC West with Arizona and San Francisco heading into a matchup with the 49ers on Thursday night at Candlestick Park.

It can't be the case with a defense that was one of the NFL's best last year and this season is second in rushing yards (70.0) and points allowed (15.5) per game. New England's 23 points on Sunday were the most given up by Seattle this year, but the Patriots also didn't get a first down on either of their final two possessions in the Seahawks' 24-23 victory.

Coach Pete Carroll's zeal for college-style antics often goes over like his team's uniforms, but it's also a distraction from the serious roster building he has done with general manager John Schneider. Carroll also knew enough to get out of the way of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who already had a good thing going before he took over.

There is a difference between picking players -- like Kam Chancellor (Virginia Tech) and towering cornerbacks Richard Sherman and Brandon Browner -- and making the bold choice to put the offense into the hands of a rookie quarterback like Russell Wilson, especially at the cost of having high-priced Matt Flynn on the bench.

That was Carroll's bold choice, and there was no better vindication than against the Patriots, when Wilson's two touchdown drives completed Seattle's biggest fourth-quarter comeback since 2003.

The victory also counts as much as the Packers game, even if both could've ended up as losses. The performances on the field should be enough to show that the Seahawks are a legitimate threat in the NFC West. But for a Seattle team that still struggles in the perception game, having numbers in the win column will help much more.

- Craig Stouffer