With another hotly contested division win in their rear view mirror, the Baltimore Ravens head to Seattle to take on the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks at 4:25pm at CenturyLink Field.
The Ravens picked up a 23-17 home win over the Cincinnati Bengals last Sunday to get to 4-2 on the season and open a two game lead in the AFC North. Lamar Jackson was a running machine going for 152 yards on 19 carries and a touchdown. Jackson also went 21-33 in the air for 236 yards becoming the first player in NFL history to run for 150+ yards and throw form 200+ yards in the same game.
Folks are often concerned about how often Jackson runs but the fact of the matter is that the Ravens are a better team when Lamar uses his legs to give the defense more things to think about. Jackson doesn’t care how they get it done on offense:
The Ravens will be heading to Seattle this Sunday to take a on a Seahawks team led by MVP front-runner Russell Wilson. Seattle sits at 5-1 after a 32-28 win over the Cleveland Browns.
Here are three things I am looking for on Sunday as the Ravens face one of their toughest tests yet.
1) Can the run game keep rumbling?
The Ravens rushed for 269 yards on Sunday against a terrible Bengals run defense. Seattle’s run defense is coming off their worst performance of the season, surrendering 157 yards to the Cleveland Browns.
Seattle ranks 11th in the NFL in total run defense, giving up an average of 92.8 yards-per-game but seeing some cracks in their armor last week is encouraging. The Ravens are averaging a total of 205 yards-per-game rushing to lead the NFL. It starts with Jackson, but don’t forget about Mark Ingram, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill. The group is on-pace to break the NFL record for rushing yards in a season.
The Seahawks do sit at 23rd in passing defense so it might make more sense to try and attack in that manner. But with Hollywood Brown still nursing an an ankle injury, Mark Andrews banged up seemingly all year, and the Ravens lacking other proven options in the passing game, they would be best served to get the running game going early Sunday.
Another reason why I value the running game so highly this week plays into my second thing to watch for on Sunday and that is Russell Wilson. The better the Ravens are able to control the clock on Sunday, the more time Wilson spends on the sidelines. When you take a look at what Wilson has done this season, that’s where the Ravens need him to be if they want to emerge victorious on Sunday.
2) How do you stop Russell Wilson and Seattle’s offense?
Seattle ranks fifth in NFL in total offense and they are led by the MVP front-runner in Wilson.
All Wilson has done this season is complete 72.5% of his passes while tossing 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He has a passer rating of 124.7 and a quarterback rating of 81.8. Wilson’s only turnover this season is a fumble. He has added 151 yards and three touchdowns on the ground this season. Wilson has just one pick in his last 10 starts dating back to the 2018-19 postseason.
In Wilson’s only career start against Baltimore, he went 23-for-32 with five touchdowns. Albeit that was the 2015 season in which the injury-riddled Ravens suffered their only losing season in the John Harbaugh era, but Wilson doing so at M&T Bank Stadium is impressive nevertheless.
The Ravens made a huge trade on Tuesday night, acquiring two-time All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters from the Los Angeles Rams. The Ravens hope that Peters can help Marlon Humphrey in shutting down the Seahawks top two receiving options in Tyler Lockett and rookie D.K. Metcalf who have combined for 51 catches for 790 yards and five touchdowns.
As if the Seattle passing game and Wilson’s ability on the ground isn’t enough, the Seahawks also have Chris Carson who ranks fifth in the NFL with 504 rushing yards on the season with two rushing touchdowns. Add in two receiving touchdowns on 19 catches for 140 yards for Carson and the Ravens will have their hands full on his front as well.
After surrendering 500+ yards in back-to-back weeks to the Browns and the Chiefs, the Ravens defense has bounced back, giving up just 269 yards to the Steelers and 250 yards to the Bengals last week.
Wilson and company present a much greater challenge on Sunday and will prove a nice measuring stick for where this Ravens defense really is as the bye week approaches.
3) Home cookin’ and a prominent return
For those of you living under a rock, it tends to get pretty loud in Seattle. They have broken the decibel record for most noise generated on several occasions and the 12th Man will be out in full force this Sunday.
Consider this: Wilson is 46-13 at home in the regular season since entering the NFL in 2012. He has thrown only 27 interceptions in those 59 home games and has played to passer rating of 104.1. That is scorching to say the least. The Ravens are 0-2 in their two prior visits to Seattle in franchise history, including a 22-17 loss back in 2011 before Wilson was even on the scene.
The days of the Legion of Boom are well behind the Seahawks, but they still possess one of the best home field advantages in the NFL. While the crowd is going crazy for their defense, the Ravens offense will have to account for the impressive pass rushing trio of Jadeveon Clowney, Ezekiel Ansah, and Jarran Reed who is returning from a six-game suspension.
Reed is one of the biggest concerns that I have in this game. He is an interior pass rushing game-wrecker. Chris Jones of the Chiefs is someone I like to compare Reed with. Reed had 10.5 sacks last season and should be licking his chops to go up against the Ravens interior line featuring Matt Skura and Bradley Bozeman, who was charged with four flags last week.
If the Ravens can’t keep Reed in-check on the inside, it will open up one-on-ones for Clowney and Ansah who have only combined for two sacks and five quarterback hits on the season but are threats to break out at any time.
Jake McDonnell: Seahawks 30 Ravens 20
Nolan McGraw: Seahawks 33 Ravens 30
Isaiah Stumpf: Ravens 24 Seahawks 17
Ian Schultz: Seahawks 25 Ravens 20
I can’t bring myself to pick the Ravens in this one. Seattle is too good at home and Wilson is playing at a higher level than any NFL quarterback. He is equipped with weapons to take advantage of a depleted secondary even with the addition of Peters. The Ravens are going to play well in this one but it won’t be enough as the Ravens will hit their bye week 4-3.
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