As the landscape of this season becomes harder, and harder to traverse without serious thoughts of negativity here come the Baltimore Ravens. Its times like this I wish we could play the Rams the next eight games in a row. The bright side is that our defense was built to defend the Ravens style of offense. The only problem is our offense may find itself watching from the sidelines the majority of the game, thereby exposing our defense to several more snaps than they can handle.
Scouting Data( Stats from ESPN, NFL.com, ProFootballfocus.com, Footballoutsiders.com):
Matchups to watch when the Ravens have the ball.
DE Chris Clemons vs LT Bryant McKinnie
When McKinnie was released from the Vikings, and signed by the Ravens, it was a huge deal in more ways than one. With him at the Left tackle position, the Ravens have a monstrous LT defending Joe Flacco’s blind side, and a road grader for Ray Rice in the run game. Chris Clemons might be a liability in the run game, but McKinnie has struggled lately against speed rushers so I’m hoping for a draw here.
DT Alan Branch vs RG Marshal Yanda
The Ravens have really been playing well at the Center and Guard positions. RG Marshal Yanda has been a bright spot, and has played very well in every game this year. He has only given up 3 pressures, and 1 sack, and runs behind him are averaging 6.4 YPC. This match up is going to be huge. DT Alan Branch better hold up or MLB David Hawthorne will be dealing with RB Ray Rice hitting the second level at full speed all day.
WR Anquan Bolden vs CB Brandon Browner:
Browner was signed to defend players like Bolden. Bolden’s strengths can be neutralized by Browner’s size, and physicality. Without elite break away speed, Browner should not need constant over the top safety assistance.
NOTE: One thing the Seahawks corners have failed to execute at an acceptable level is their press coverage. Time after time they have allowed a free release into the soft spot between the corner and the safety. This has made safeties play farther back to protect, thereby slowing their ability to come down hard in run support. This must change if the Seahawks want to have a chance in this one.
Matchups to watch when the Seahawks have the ball
DE H. Ngata & OLB T. Suggs Vs LT Russell Okung
Because of the challenges facing James Carpenter on the right side, it’s going to be very difficult to consistently bring extra blockers over to assist Russell Okung. The combo of Ngata and Suggs is a nightmare scenario for the Seahawks. Russell Okung will have to handle several different attacks from DE inside OLB outside rushes to double outside rush schemes. The Ravens love to use their front 3 to occupy blockers allowing very active LBs to penetrate and disrupt. Look for the Seahawks to max protect, or use a double TE approach to try to slow the pass rush down.
S Ed Reed vs QB Tarvaris Jackson
Ed Reed is one of the very best, and most difficult players to game plan for in history. He is so unorthodox in his approach to the safety position its a huge mistake to think he’ll be where his initial steps take him. He’ll drop middle third, half, quarters, and then sprint across the field to pick off a quick throw in the flat to a RB. He’s everywhere, and if Tarvaris Jackson is under pressure, it’s going to make his decision-making critical to any chance of offensive success.
I have a feeling that the Ravens will struggle initially against the 12th Man and a pumped up Seahawks defense. But looking at our offense vs the Ravens defense it’s obvious that barring some craziness, the Seahawks defense will be on the field for the majority of the game. In my opinion, this might be the ugliest offensive game we will see this year. I say that knowing full well how bad Charlie Whitehurst, and co was a couple of weeks back. There is nothing but pure homerism that allows me to think anything other than that our 30th ranked offense will have nothing resembling sustainable success against the # 1 ranked Ravens defense. This will allow RB Ray Rice to eventually break through our stout run defense, exposing CBs Browner and Sherman in one on one coverage once our safeties are forced to creep into the box. I hate to say this (because I’m a firm believer that when you put on the pads you always have a chance) but I just don’t see a way to victory in this one. That is unless the Ravens play down to our level as they did against Arizona and Jacksonville earlier this season.
Score Prediction: 24-9, Ravens
Next 4: Rams, Redskins, Eagles, Rams (I can see 2-3 wins here). See, I can be positive! Go HAWKS!!