Keys to the game: Ravens at Seahawks
Posted by Danny O'Neil
Three keys to Seahawks victory
1. Protect Tarvaris Jackson.
After giving up just one sack in Dallas last week, the Seahawks no longer rank last in the league in sacks allowed. Don't exhale just yet, though. Here comes Baltimore's defense, which only ranks second in the NFL with 26 sacks. That might mean another afternoon of pass-protection assignments for Seattle tight end Zach Miller, who may be called upon to help keep linebacker Terrell Suggs from spending the afternoon in Jackson's lap.
2. Get Jackson back on track.
He was intercepted three times last week, his most in any game this season. The Seahawks have committed 16 turnovers, third-most in the NFC. The Ravens have forced 18 turnovers, which is third-most in the AFC. Seattle isn't good enough to overcome turnovers so it absolutely must keep the Ravens from giving themselves extra possessions.
3. Stop playing flag football.
The Seahawks have been penalized 29 times in the previous three games and scored just 28 points. Their 70 penalties through eight games are more than they had in two different 16-game seasons under coach Mike Holmgren. You know how Seattle isn't good enough to win in spite of turnovers? Well, that goes double for committing penalties.
Three keys to Ravens victory
1. Look up and over the defense.
Baltimore would prefer to win a war of attrition at the line of scrimmage, but Seattle's defensive front is its strength. Rookie receiver Torrey Smith gives the Ravens a home-run hitter on the outside and Seattle is starting two second-year safeties and a pair of cornerbacks in their first year in the NFL. Expect the Ravens to take at least a few shots deep Sunday.
2. Stop the run.
This shouldn't be too much of a challenge. The Ravens have ranked in the NFL's top five run defenses for each of the past five seasons and are currently No. 3. But the Seahawks are feeling pretty good about themselves after rushing for 162 yards last week in Dallas, their most in any game since Pete Carroll became coach. Marshawn Lynch gained 135 yards against the Cowboys, his most in any regular-season start as a Seahawk.
3. Start fast.
The Ravens have outscored opponents 62-13 in the first quarter this season, the second-largest difference in the league behind Houston. The Seahawks have scored only 20 points in the first period all season and have yet to hold a halftime lead. If the Ravens jump out to an early lead, it will minimize the impact of the home crowd at CenturyLink Field, which might be the only advantage Seattle has going for it in this game.
Ravens LT Bryant McKinnie vs. Seahawks DE Chris Clemons.
The Seahawks failed to record a single sack for the third different game this season. Not only has Seattle has lost all three of those games, but it has forced only one turnover showing the importance of pass pressure. As effective as the Ravens' Joe Flacco has been, he has never been accused of being all that mobile. Baltimore has allowed three sacks in each of the past three games, and Clemons' quickness could be a real challenge for the 345-pound McKinnie.
This is the fourth time the franchises have played since the Ravens moved to Baltimore. The Seahawks won the last meeting 27-6, which was in Seattle in 2007, a game that Troy Smith started at quarterback. Seattle is 0-3 against the AFC North this season, and the Seahawks have lost eight of their last nine inter-conference games.
Dec 24 - 6:10 AM Looking back: Revisiting Sunday's scouting report
Dec 24 - 1:09 AM Seahawks' scoring binge
Dec 24 - 1:01 AM Video: Summing Seattle's victory
Dec 24 - 12:58 AM Video: Russell Wilson post-game comments
Dec 24 - 12:21 AM Rookie passing roll call