Baltimore Ravens Week 10: 7 Keys to Ravens Victory over Seattle Seahawks
Despite Seattle being 2-6, Baltimore cannot simply consider them an easy win. Remember their latest loss is against a 2-6 Jacksonville team.
While this game may not seem as important as the one in Pittsburgh, it is certainly just as important in the standings, especially with the Bengals facing the Steelers this week.
Lets look at several key factors to victory in Seattle that the Ravens must consider.
Ravens Must Not Give Up Penalty Yards
The Seahawks have the biggest home team advantage in the NFL and since 2005 have the most false start penalties against opponents.
But the Ravens defense is the least of their worries.
In the first play of Week 9's game, Ray Rice ran for a 76-yard touchdown only to find the line of scrimmage moving backwards due to a holding call on Torrey Smith.
Despite surprisingly few flags, there was a lot of helmet to helmet hits in Pittsburgh as well, and Baltimore needs to remember that these hits won't fly in most cities.
Tarvaris Jackson Needs to Be Under Pressure
Throughout Week 9's game against Pittsburgh, Ben Roethlisberger consistently had upwards of five to six seconds before he needed to throw the ball.
Even though Jackson is not a great quarterback, he has targets like Sidney Rice that can pull down less than perfect throws, and Jackson has shown he can throw 300 yards if you let him.
The expectation is that a brutal Ravens defense will make Seattle regret showing up to work, but that expectation needs to become a reality.
Trust in Ravens Cornerbacks Can Only Go so Far
Baltimore corners were left to single coverage for a very large part of the game in Pittsburgh.
While Cary Williams and Lardarius Webb both had some phenomenal plays, extending too much faith in them may have been unwarranted.
Insufficient coverage over Pittsburgh wide-outs is why Baltimore needed a huge drive for a touchdown in the first place.
In fact, Wallace's touchdown was vultured from an open Antonio Brown making two open Pittsburgh receivers in the end zone that play.
Finally, Pittsburgh was without Hines Ward and Emanuel Sanders and still managed to do damage. Rice, Baldwin and Obomanu all have 100-plus-yard games.
Seattle is not short of weapons at wide-receiver, and must not be allowed to capitalize on them.
Neutralizing Seattle's Rushing Game
Seattle's rushing game has been nothing to look at recently. That is until Tarvaris Jackson made the passing game a potential threat.
Marshawn Lynch averaged nearly 5.9 yards per carry and ran for 135 total yards in Dallas.
Seattle had a total of 162 rushing yards against Dallas, who before Sunday, were giving up just 94 yards per game.
The good news for Baltimore is that stopping a running game hasn't proven particularly difficult for them and Seattle's running game hasn't been particularly reliable.
Joe Flacco's Pass Protection Is a Must
Half-way through the regular season, Flacco has more fumbles than any full season of his NFL career.
He's also got his lowest completion percentage of his career, putting Baltimore at 28th in the League.
The Ravens have a lower completion percentage than Seattle including the Charlie Whitehurst failings.
Even with the return of Ben Grubbs, Pittsburgh managed to sack Flacco three times, forcing a fumble one of in one of the plays. The Ravens have allowed 19 sacks this season, 13th most in the league.
The Seahawks don't have Pittsburgh's defense, but they aren't slouches either. Seattle's pass defense is tied for 13th in interceptions and 18th for yards allowed per game, so it's crucial that Flacco not be forced into poor passes.
Flacco Needs to Find His Wide-Receivers
As Pittsburgh displayed Sunday, when you neutralize Ray Rice, you give Baltimore serious problems.
Seattle has a proven run defense and we can't neglect the possibility of them stopping Rice.
Far less than half of Flacco's passes wind up in the hands of a wide-receiver.
This is largely because Dickson and Pitta have done very well at tight-end and Rice can catch the ball as well as he runs.
The problem is that if you let Seattle leave single coverage on receivers and move their defense forward, Baltimore will need extra blocking from tight-ends and Flacco can still find himself in a situation where he's not afforded the time to hit his receivers.
This is a slippery slope and Flacco needs to let Seattle know early on that his receivers can do a ton of damage if they aren't covered.
Wide-Outs Need to Stop Dropping Passes
Torrey Smith was the Ravens big story with his game-winning reception.
What people forget is that just moments earlier he dropped the game winning pass in the end-zone. It was a difficult pass, but he's got to catch them.
Earlier, Smith dropped a pass that defines a perfect pass.
In single coverage, it hit him right between the eight and the two. Rookie or not, Smith is a starting wide-receiver in the NFL and he needs to clear his head and play at that level.
But don't think I'm just picking on Smith.
In the final drive, Boldin had a pass hit him right in the hands and fall right to the ground. He just put his hands on his helmet in disappointment because he knows he's a better player.
Bottom line, Flacco showed he can throw the rock, he's got fast and skilled receivers, and if they come together, they will demolish Seattle.