The Seahawks to win the NFC West? Who says? Mel Kiper, in the staff predictions at ESPN.com.

That’s right. Kiper’s sleeper pick is Seattle to regain the division title it won in 2010, Pete Carroll’s first season as coach. Bill Polian, the former GM of the Colts and Bills, also shows the Seahawks some love as his “dark horse” pick.

It’s an Insider feature, so requires registration and a fee to read all their picks. But here’s what they had to say about the Seahawks:

Kiper: “Here’s your surprise pick. The 49ers are very good, but should regress a little bit – turnover margin isn’t reliable year to year – and the Seattle defense can be really good if it can find a consistent pass rush. Russell Wilson has a chance to be really good because of his maturity – he could be this year’s Andy Dalton.”

Polian: “Yes, they have a rookie quarterback in Wilson, but they also have a defense capable of keeping the score close and a rushing attack that will keep the chains moving forward. While I think Wilson will be capable of great things down the line, any playmaking Seattle gets out of him this season will be a bonus. His biggest contribution will be keeping the ball safe from the defense. To that end, I see Wilson as a smart player and a sound decision-maker. A 33:4 touchdown-to-interception ratio in his final season in Madison bears this out. But that’s not the NFL, which is why I can only go as far as naming Seattle a sleeper.”