This Sunday afternoon, the 5-1 Seattle Seahawks play host to the 4-2 Baltimore Ravens with both teams fresh off wins over AFC North opponents. If Seattle wins, they will complete a sweep of the AFC North, as they have previously defeated the Cincinnati Bengals, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Cleveland Browns.
This game will be just the third time Seattle has played against an opponent with a winning record and its first against a team with an elite passer at QB. Seattle is 2-1 at home, and the Ravens have a matching 2-1 road record. This will be the Ravens’ second game against a team with a winning record and its second against a team with an elite passer.
Seattle is coming off a sloppy win over the Browns where it fell behind early. But four turnovers by Cleveland helped launch a Seattle victory. A minor injury took place to Browns QB Baker Mayfield, who was noticeably limping after taking a hit in the first half. In the win Seattle, lost TE Will Dissly to a season-ending Achilles injury, but recently-signed fan-favorite Luke Willson should be well manned for QB Russell Wilson’s safety valve/escape routes.
Coming into Sunday, Wilson is playing at mid-season form and has an astounding 14 TDs with zero interceptions while completing 72% of his passes in what is supposed to be a run-heavy offense. Running back Chris Carson has 504 yards and two touchdowns to go with two lost fumbles, and he has really turned a corner since the win over Arizona three weeks ago. Carson is a bruising runner in the mold of Marshawn Lynch, and as long as he stays healthy, the offense will continue to hand him the ball and watch him grind out the tough yards. Receiver and world-class speedster Tyler Lockett has 35 receptions this season for 454 yards and three TDs, and usually, he has to wait for David Moore or DK Metcalf to keep the defense honest before he can test the deeper routes against single coverage.
Baltimore QB Lamar Jackson has taken the league by storm, averaging 250 yards passing on a 65% completion rate along with 75 yards rushing. While his 11 TDs and 5 INTs are not as impressive as Wilson’s ratio, he is in just his second year and seems to be adapting to the professional game at a rapid rate. His mobility and arm strength make it tough for defensive coordinators to game plan against him, and his instant connection with rookie WR Marquise “Hollywood” Brown has been fun to watch as the two have connected on some big plays.
Speaking of Brown, his status for Sunday’s game is in question due to an ankle injury. But Brown has recorded 21 receptions for 326 yards and 3 TDs despite missing their win over the Bengals last week. If the Ravens are short-handed in their passing game, look for them to lean on their top-rated rushing attack with Jackson and RB Mark Ingram—and Ingram has 7 TDs already with just one lost fumble.
The Seattle offense is surprising people as they rank #7 overall, scoring 27.5 points per game. They are 5th in passing and 9th in rushing, and throw a lot of different looks at their opponent and can beat you through the air or on the ground. Their defense is ranked #20 overall, and are average against the rush at #12 but have some improving to do against the pass, ranking #25. If Seattle cannot slow the Ravens, they’ll need to win by outscoring them, and that’s where things could get tricky, especially if the Ravens find ways to control the tempo.
The Ravens come into this game with the #2 offense, just a notch under New England’s #1. The Ravens average 30.7 points per game, and rank #14 in passing and are the #1 rushing offense. Their defense is ranked #17, and this was before trading for former Rams and Chiefs cornerback Marcus Peters. They allow the 27th-most passing yards, but are #9 against the run.
The long and short of it: The Ravens are great at running and great at stopping the run but may struggle to pass and may struggle to stop the pass. They are scoring on average nearly a touchdown more than they allow, where the Seahawks are scoring about a field goal more than they allow from their opponents. For two teams in the thick of the playoff race, this will be a great test for both sides.
With a win and an unlikely 49ers loss (the 5-0 49ers play 1-5 Washington this week), the Seahawks will have the lead in the NFC West. With a loss, they would fall another game behind and give the LA Rams a chance to get back in the race. If Baltimore wins, they will head into their bye with a three game lead in their division before hosting the New England Patriots in week 8. If the Ravens lose, they will take a week off to lick their wounds before hosting the defending and so far undefeated champions needing a win to keep their record over .500.
In what should be a really fun game in a rain-soaked stadium (forecasts currently call for rain showers on Sunday in the Seattle area), we’ll see if Seattle can keep pace with the Ravens and leave the game with a victory.
You can catch the game on FOX this Sunday, with coverage of the showdown beginning at 1:25pm.