NFL

AUTHOR: Star Sports Content

STAR NFL PREVIEW Sun: Seattle Seahawks @ Baltimore Ravens

This game is one of four matchups on Sunday that stand out from the rest of the Week 9 slate and fortunately all of the games can be watched back-to-back, a victory on Sunday for the couch potatoes out there.

Seattle (5-2) travel east having wrested away the top spot in the NFC West from the 49ers and are verging on being one of the surprise teams of the year. The Ravens are 6-2, topping the AFC North and looking as though they are going to be one of the teams to beat in the AFC once the playoffs come around.

Last week the Ravens were rather sloppy in allowing the Cardinals to score 10 points in the last 1:18 of the game and despite that lapse and the fact that they weren’t as explosive as they were when putting away the Lions in dynamic fashion the previous week they present a formidable foes for the Seahawks. Seattle having taken a 14-point lead over the Browns were pegged back actually fell behind 20-17 until a late Jaxon Smith-Njigba touchdown on a pass from QB Geno Smith sealed the victory.

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The fact that Seattle like to play fast should see this game being played at an up-tempo pace although trusting Geno Smith on the road against a strong Ravens defence is something of a leap of faith. On defence themselves the Seahawks have just got healthier and stronger as they have just added defensive end Leonard Williams from the Giants. As for the Ravens, they might be the most complete team in football. They can run it; they can pass it. Their defence is now rated first, overtaking Cleveland and with kicker Justin Tucker they certainly have the edge in the kicking game. One statistic in favour of the Ravens is that QB Lamar Jackson is 17-1 in his career against NFC teams and Baltimore are rated the -6.5 favourites in this contest at starsports. bet.

A 9-1 shot in the Highest Scoring Game on Sunday Specials Market there is every chance that the total points line of +43.5 could be exceeded. Looking at that specials market the two games that do appeal as potential value are the Colts/Panthers match up at 7-1 and the Cowboys/Eagles game at 9-2.
Seattle have been a little different on offence this year, in past years they attempted to execute one element of the offensive game well and that was running the football. This season they have been far more active in trying to exploit the weakness in their opponents game. That was in evidence last week against the tough Browns run defence when then they went to the pass far more than the expectations of the game dictated. Make no mistake that though that whichever approach they choose to take it will be a tough test for Seahawks QB Geno Smith.

Seattle have only led for 35.7% of their offensive snaps, 11th out of the 14 teams with a winning record this season. Finishing off drives has become a problem for Seattle, over the last three games alone, the Seahawks had seven drives that have reached the opposition’s 27-, 16-, 9-, 6-, 5-, 3-, and 2-yard lines. They’ve come away with six total points due to a field goal, three interceptions, and two turnovers on downs. They can’t afford to not convert field positions like that against the Ravens. Despite throwing a pair of TDs for the second week running last week Smith also threw another two interceptions giving him five turnovers over the past three games.

He had thrown just one interception over his first four games. Things remain hard this weekend against a Baltimore defence that has allowed a league-low 5.5 yards per pass attempt and a 1.9% touchdown rate. This week it won’t be surprise if the Seattle attempt to take the pressure off Smith and utilise their run game.

Kenneth Walker remains the lead RB but it appears that rookie Zach Charbonnet is starting to eat into the usage that Walker is getting. Charbonnet has made a case for more work after gaining a season-high 53 yards on only five attempts last week. The rookie second-round pick hasn’t had more than nine attempts in a game yet, and he and Walker haven’t combined for more than 27 but that could all change on Sunday. The Ravens have played middling run defence , permitting 4.33 yards per carry and 125.4 total yards per game to opposing running backs. Even with the Ravens easier to attack on the ground, this is still a defence allowing the fewest points per game (15.1) and just three rushing scores this season.

Both Seattle main wide receivers have appeared on the injury report this week with Tyler Lockett trending in the right direction whilst DK Metcalf trend line was going in the opposite direction. The Seahawks will be hoping that both of those are ready for the trip to Baltimore as either would be a significant loss. Lockett has very much been the security receiver for Smith and the Hawks offence of late catching 18 balls on 22 targets over the last three games. Metcalf’s health is an ongoing concern, especially after he missed Thursday’s practice with a hip injury and his deep-ball threat would be a big loss to the Seattle offence.

The biggest plus for the Ravens offence this year has been the play of QB Lamar Jackson who appears to take less risks and has become far more patient in the passing game this season with the Ravens offence looking balanced between pass and run. They do remain quite a methodical offence though. One area where Jackson has thrived is when he is pressured producing the highest yards per attempt (10.2) and second-highest completion percentage (55%) when under duress. He faces a Seahawks pass rush that ranks 10th in pressure rate (32%) and has recorded the fifth-most sacks this season (26).

Statistics like these show how balanced and efficient the Ravens offence has been this season. Baltimore have led for 63.5% of their offensive snaps, the highest rate in the league and they remain the only team that has not run a play trailing by double-digits. They have also scored 62.5% of the points in their games, the highest share in the league.

Going back to Jackson Seattle will have to contain him (easier than it sounds) as he’s one of the most mobile QB’s in the league already leading all quarterbacks in rushing yardage by 100 yards, Jackson has 380 yards on the ground already this season. Seattle have yielded the league’s ninth-most QB rushing yards (162).

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Apart from Jackson the majority of the Ravens run game has gone through Gus Edwards ever since J.K. Dobbins was lost for the season and in the right situation Edwards is a dangerous customer as we saw last week when he went for 80 yards on 19 carries and three TDs. This will be tougher assignment though than the porous Cardinals run defence of last week with the Seahawks holding opponents to just 3.6 yards per carry behind 1.23 yards before contact this season, ranking third and second in those metrics, respectively. They have allowed seven rushing scores and with Jackson having had 20 red-zone carries this year it may be worth looking at him to score a TD in this contest.

As mentioned the Ravens offence has had far more balance injected into it this year and in WR Zay Flowers Baltimore have a very legitimate receiving threat. Flowers only managed 19 yards on Sunday, catching 5-of-7 targets against Arizona but that looks as though it was down to game script and that’s likely to be a very different here. Flowers has scored just one TD all year but he ranks top 20 in the league in both red-zone targets (9) and targets inside the 10-yard line (4). TE Mark Andrews is the Ravens other main aerial threat and both Andrews and Flowers feature in starsports.bet Specials Market “Most Receiving Yards on Sunday,” priced at 50-1 and 40-1 respectively it would be a surprise if either was the winner in this market despite their prominent roles in the Ravens offence. One WR who does catch the eye at a big price (40-1) in this market though is the Colts Michael Pittman Jr who has an excellent match up against the Panthers and is worth a sporting play.

This game has the ability to develop into a bit of a chess match and it’s certainly an intriguing one tactically. However, Baltimore have outscored opponents by a league-high 49 points in the first quarter and 76 points in the first half and as we saw when they led in their last home game 35-0 against Detroit they have the ability to get off to a fast start. The Ravens look an interesting play in the light of that statistic at 10-11, -3.5 points on the First Half Handicap Market.

ANDY RICHMOND


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