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Seahawks vs. Ravens preview: Will the Ravens run game find success against Seattle’s front 7?

The Seahawks have a stern test in front of them in the form of the 6-2 Baltimore Ravens.

Baltimore Ravens v Arizona Cardinals Photo by Norm Hall/Getty Images

The Seattle Seahawks enter Week 9 on the heels of what was arguably their ugliest win of the season against the Cleveland Browns. They got off to a flying start scoring 17 points in the first quarter. From there, the offense hit a screeching halt as their next points didn’t come until the final 38 seconds of the fourth quarter, when Geno Smith found Jaxon Smith-Njigba for the game winning touchdown. In the seven drives between their third and fourth scoring drives, Seattle had four 3-and-outs, two interceptions and an 8-play drive that resulted in a punt.

Now Seattle’s reward for that offensive showing is to face potentially the league’s best defense in the Baltimore Ravens, in Baltimore for a 10 AM PST kickoff. Because of those offensive struggles, paired with it being an early kickoff road game, the Ravens are a heavy 6-point favorite in DraftKings Sportsbook. There are points expected to be scored in the matchup of the birds, as the over/under of 44 points is the fifth highest mark of the week.

Baltimore pass rush vs the Seattle offensive line

Two things the Baltimore Ravens defense does better than anybody else in the league is get their linebackers involved in the pass rush and exotic pressures. The Ravens starting interior linebackers, Patrick Queen and Roquan Smith, have combined for 5 sacks and 8 QB hits. Defensive coordinator Mike Macdonald gets them involved through stunts, delayed pressures and Cover 0 blitzes. On the first play we can see a delayed blitz by Patrick Queen where he gets his shoulders parallel to the line of scrimmage at the snap. He does this to give the appearance that he is going to be dropping back in coverage. But then at the snap he comes downhill unaccounted for by the offensive line for the easy sack.

In the second tweet, on the first play, we can see one of the exotic pressures Macdonald throws at offenses. Right before the snap the Ravens show six potential blitzers in their three linebackers and three down linemen. But Patrick Queen and Michael Pierce drop into coverage, which confuses both the quarterback and offensive line. Then, the extra blitzer they do bring on the play, Arthur Maulet, who is coming off of the slot gets home on Jared Goff.

Ravens secondary vs the Seattle pass catchers

The Ravens secondary has quietly been one of the best units in the league. They’ve struggled with health with key starters Marcus Williams and Marlon Humphrey each missing multiple games. They’ve only allowed one passer to amass more than 250 yards against them this season. That QB was Jared Goff, who picked up the majority of his 284 yards well after the game was decided.

The unit is led by the aforementioned Humphrey who has consistently been one of the league’s cornerbacks. He has struggled through his first four games thus far allowing a passer rating of 105.3, but that’s only come on 12 targets. When Humphrey is right he is a true cover corner who brings a ton of physicality with him. On the first play we can see that blanket ability as he is able to stick with Odell Beckham Jr. on a whip route which, is one of the many routes Odell has mastered over the years.

In the second tweet we see Kyle Hamilton, a do-it-all safety cover rookie tight end Sam Laporta with absolute ease. On third-and-long, Hamilton, who is playing in off coverage, stays patient throughout the course of the route and uses perfect leverage. He breaks off his shuffle right at the time Laporta snaps off his route which allows for Hamilton to stay attached to Laporta’s hip and pick up the PBU.

Baltimore rushing attack vs the defensive line

If the Ravens have been known for one thing over the past few seasons it’s a vaunted rushing attack, which is headlined by former MVP quarterback Lamar Jackson. This year they are second in the league in rushing yards, rushing first downs, tied for second in rushing touchdowns, and are first in rushing attempts. Under new offensive coordinator Todd Monken, Lamar has been used less in the designed running game this season, but that has not stopped him from being deadly as a runner. He is tied for sixth in rushing yards per attempt and his rushing success rate of 54.1 percent is 10th, one spot behind starting RB Gus Edwards. Where Lamar makes his money as a runner is when pass plays break down and he is able to take advantage of open space, as highlighted in the first tweet.

After years of being a heavy pistol offense, the Ravens are finally starting to utilize more traditional under-center running plays. This has allowed for them to become a more complete and dynamic offense as they are able to keep opposing defenses guessing. Gus Edwards has been especially dangerous on these running plays due to his ability to run downhill and attack gaps with his power.

Seattle has been one of the best run defenses in the league this year, but Baltimore is going to far and away their most difficult test of the season.

Zay Flowers vs the Seattle secondary

Zay Flowers has quietly been one of the more dynamic pass catching weapons in the league this year. He is only averaging 10.5 yards per reception which is tied for 76th, but that has not stopped his impact from being felt. He is used heavily in the short passing game as he runs multiple bubble and smoke routes a game. However, he is an advanced route runner who offers a true threat at all three levels of the field, which we can see on the first play where he snaps off a fantastic curl route. On the second tweet we can see Flowers run a very good dig route where he is able to find a soft spot in the zone coverage. Lamar Jackson is able to find him and Flowers turns on the afterburners for a 46 yard reception.

The Seahawks have their own first-round rookie receiver in Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Seattle’s defense will be alert to stop Baltimore’s first-round talent.