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Birds of a feather: Seahawks set to take on their most similar opponent this season, the Ravens

NFL: DEC 13 Seahawks at Ravens Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks and Baltimore Ravens set themselves apart last season as the best running teams in the NFL. There’s some rumblings that teams are trying to return to “old school” football; Seattle and Baltimore actually did it successfully. Here’s a look at last season as they distanced themselves by nearly ten running yards per game from the next team.

But that’s not where the similarities end, not even close. Both teams run the ball well. Both teams strive to play excellent defense (whether Seattle succeeds is questionable - their defensive DVOA last season was 13th compared to BAL’s 3rd). They’ve both got mobile quarterbacks. They both were lights out to finish the 2018 season, each going 6-1 in the final seven games.

But wait, there’s more! Both teams feature a winged creature as their fearless champion. The two have similar taste in free safety. They both prefer not to be quarterbacked by Joe Flacco. Both fan bases hate the New England Patriots.

And finally, they’ve even gone so far as to have an eerily similar schedule to open 2019, complete with some comparable results. So without further ado, let’s break down the crucial components that the cheeky copycat Ravens are trying to steal, and see who wore it best - NFL edition.


Seattle Seahawks 2019 schedule:

Now, the Baltimore Ravens 2019 schedule. It’s well known that Ravens mimic sounds in an attempt to sound like a superior predator. Notice four of the same opponents as the almighty Seahawk.

Baltimore is deserved massive props for a five point game against the KC Chiefs on the road in what was a very impressive 4th quarter attack. The Ravens also beat the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers by more than the Seahawks did. We throw out the game against Miami because so does nearly every other team that has the fortune of playing the Dolphins right now.

Seattle, meanwhile, has a loss to probably the best team in the NFC in New Orleans. The only significant difference is a four-point victory over the Cleveland Browns on the road, while the Ravens suffered a 15-point loss at home. I looked into this, and Baker Mayfield did indeed play that game as well, so that game remains a true mystery for Baltimore.

Seattle is currently undefeated on the road and has four come-from-behind victories, speaking to their impressive ability to overcome in-game adversity.

Advantage: Seattle.

Quarterback Play

The two QBs are also somewhat comparable. Apparently people in Baltimore actually think Lamar Jackson is so similar to Russell Wilson that they’ve taken the liberty to insert Jackson into the MVP conversation as well.

How close are they, really? Here’s Lamar Jackson’s stats per game:

Here’s Russell Wilson’s:

The strange copycat game continues. Jackson and Russ have been sacked the same number of times (16).

For the most part, that’s where the comparisons end. Jackson flies all over the place - posting two games above 100 yards rushing. He’s also surpassed five yards per carry in every game except Miami when every other pass was a 50 yard TD.

Russ, meanwhile, uses his legs differently. While possibly the greatest escape artist of all time (even Madden recognizes!), he’s currently rushing less than his career average.

However, Wilson is currently on a tear of consistency while Jackson hasn’t posted a passer rating over 100 since the first two weeks. All of Lamar’s interceptions have come in the last three weeks. So have 10 of his sacks.

Here’s the biggest difference: Russell Wilson’s worst game in yards per attempt is still better than Lamar Jackson’s second best game. Russell has never had a game below eight YPA.

High yards per attempt only belong to very good quarterbacks, or those who play against Miami. Right now, Wilson is tied for second with Patrick Mahomes. Jackson is 11th, which is where I rank pigeons in my personal bird hierarchy.

Advantage: Seattle

Mascot Game

One’s named Blitz and is awesome. The other is named Poe. Like from “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe. One looks like how the Seattle defense used to act, the other represents a piece of literature.

Besides, Sports Illustrated ranked Blitz as the best mascot in the NFL, so in most people’s opinion the conversation has been decided.

Running back play

Here’s Ravens RB Mark Ingram in 2019:

Here’s Seahawks’ Chris Carson:

I don’t know that Mark Ingram has ever been compared to Chris Carson except in fantasy football, unlike their quarterback counterparts. But both are key pieces of significant run games.

Two things stand as interesting factors headed into Sunday’s matchup. First, Chris Carson is on an upswing, clearing 100 yards in the last three games. Mark Ingram is not, failing to hit even 75 in the last three. Secondly, Seattle’s offensive line issues have clearly been a factor across the board. Baltimore has started 2019 where they left off in 2018, while Seattle has fallen back from last season’s pace.

Here’s a look at the run games this year:

Even as well as Seattle has run the last three weeks, Baltimore’s done it better. Those crafty birds.

One could take some solace in the fact that Ingram fared worse against Pittsburgh, Arizona, and Cleveland than Carson did. But if you load up to stop Ingram, then Lamar takes flight.

Advantage: Baltimore, but Carson is on the uptick.

Defensive Play

These poetic crows from the East have even tried to mirror Seattle’s defense this year. Look how close some of the basic statistics are thus far:

Passing yards per game are within three yards of each other (SEA 267 to BAL 269.5).
Points per game are within one of each other (BAL 23.3 to SEA 24.3).
Rushing yards per game are close, kind of (BAL 80.7 to SEA 92.8).

The Ravens also swooped in and snapped up our beloved free safety, Earl Thomas III, who himself has proven he is quite a fan of the bird. As it happens - and I swear to you I am not making this up - Ravens learn to use hand gestures.

Advantage: none

It looks to be a close game in Seattle this weekend. Fortunately Seattle will have home tree advantage as Baltimore migrates West. I hope they get murdered, and other bird puns.