Up to this point, the Seahawks have not played a good team and have a 5-1 record to show for it. Tomorrow against the Ravens they face a team with a winning record for the first time. They also face their first real dynamic offense of the season and the Seahawks defense has been less than stellar this year. It is also the first time Russell Wilson faces off against Earl Thomas in something other than a practice or a scrimmage.
Earlier this week we answered some fan questions in preparation for this matchup. Be sure to check that out.
The return of Earl Thomas
Earl Thomas did not leave Seattle on the best of terms. We’ll all never forget the last image of him in a Seahawks uniform. Thomas was being carted off the field with a broken leg and his middle finger fully extended toward Pete Carroll.
Not the most gracious of exits for the former quarterback of the Legion of Boom and one of the reasons the Seahawks won a Super Bowl.
Whatever your thoughts are currently on Thomas, they should be focused on cheering for him before the game. You can feel free to boo him after the opening kick off.
The return of Jarran Reed
Last season Reed had 10.5 sacks for the Seahawks is making his 2019 debut on Sunday and the Seahawks need him. The Seahawks defense only has ten sacks coming into the game against the Ravens and bringing down Lamar Jackson is not going to be easy. The current combo of Quinton Jefferson and Al Woods have been serviceable, but nothing to write home about. They haven’t commanded a double team to help free up the likes of Ziggy Ansah or Jadeveon Clowney in the pass rush.
It is unknown how many snaps Reed is going to get, but having him should improve the defense in a lot of different ways. Especially with how poorly Seattle’s secondary has played so far this year. We’ll get to them later.
Russell Wilson will probably have to win this game… again
Wilson is by far the front runner for the MVP award this year and one of the most dynamic playmakers in all of professional football. The Ravens have a really banged-up secondary. They traded for Marcus Peters earlier in the week and John Harbaugh says he’s going to get quite a few snaps this week. Opposite of Peters is Marlon Humphrey, one of the better corners in all of football.
A lot of the yards thrown against the Ravens 25th ranked pass defense has come on the opposite side of Humphrey. Pro Football Focus has both Humphrey and Peters ranked in the top 10 cornerbacks so far this season.
Peters only has two practices under his belt in the Ravens system and could be taken advantage of, especially late in the game as the Ravens have almost no depth in the secondary. Tyler Lockett, D.K. Metcalf, and Jaron Brown should be able to outpace a worn-out Ravens defense in the fourth quarter.
How much will Wilson miss Will Dissly? Dissly has been Wilson’s security blanket this season and was turning into one of the better tight ends in the NFL. Not only will they miss him in the passing game, but they are also going to miss him in the rushing game. Dissly is a better blocker than a pass-catcher. What can Luke Willson contribute? Wilson and Willson do have a history and some good chemistry together from seasons past.
Let’s see if that continues.
Will Pete Carroll stubbornly hold on to running the ball? The Ravens have the fourth-best run defense in the NFL and have kept runners to less than 80 yards a game on average. With both Duane Brown and D.J. Fluker questionable the running game with Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny might be a little sluggish against a stout front seven. The Ravens don’t get after the quarterback all that well, so that may be the key thing to watch.
Brian Schottenheimer should allow Wilson to run some swing passes to put both Carson and Penny in the passing game. Let the light secondary get beat up by the Seahawks bruisers and have Russ take advantage later in the contest. But I’m pretty sure Carroll and Schottenheimer will run the ball more than necessary.
Containing Lamar Jackson
Jackson might be the only quarterback in the NFL that is a better runner than Russell Wilson and he has a laser/rocket arm to go with those legs. There hasn’t been a player in the NFL quite like Jackson, some will point to Michael Vick, but I think Jackson is a better and more dynamic player than Vick.
He’s faster than Vick and a much more accurate passer than Vick. He has over 1500 yards passing this year and also leads the Ravens in rushing with almost 500 yards rushing. It’s a pick your poison with him. Get a good rush up the middle and he’ll sprint to the outside and find his dynamic tight end Mark Andrews over the middle of the field or one of his speedster receivers in Marquise Brown or Willie Snead.
Bobby Wagner and K.J. Wright are going to have to be all over the field in this one. They are going to have to both run spy and be in coverage. Shaquille Griffin and company are going to spend a lot of time running around in coverage and trying to make plays on Jackson. They haven’t tackled well, but have come up with some big turnovers late in games. They need that streak to continue. Jackson will give you a chance for a takeaway or two.
The Ravens also average a little over five yards per carry on the ground. Lamar Jackson leads their ground attack with 460 yards and a 6.7 yards per carry average.
Both teams give up a lot of points and this one is probably going to come down to whoever has the ball last. I think I am going to take Ravens, 37-33 in this one. I think that Pete Carroll and his conservative coaching are going to cost the Seahawks this game.