Every team, no matter their record, has strengths and weaknesses. The Ravens enter this game wounded and are facing a team that is looking incredibly strong in the Seahawks, but the Ravens have made every game competitive this year. Taking a look at what they do well should give us some idea of exactly what the Seahawks are getting themselves into this weekend. The way this works: Each offense will be pitted against the opposing defense and compared on an array of key statistical attributes based on their respective rank in the NFL. The charts that follow show the rank of each unit for each of these categories. What you want to look for is where there is a big disparity between the height of one bar and another. Keep in mind that since these are rankings, lower numbers are better, so tall bars are bad.
Seahawks Offense vs Ravens Defense
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Seahawks offensive weaknesses vs Ravens defensive strengths
This section has been a bit of a broken record the past three weeks. Looks can be deceiving. Seattle is still last in the NFL in sack rate, and 22nd in the NFL in red zone percentage. The Seahawks of late look quite different than the team that dug themselves into those big rankings holes.
The Seahawks are allowing 1.6 sacks per game over their last five games, and a sack rate of 4.8%, which ranks 12th during that timeframe. In other words, they have gone from the worst pass protection team in football to an above average one. In fact, their pass protection over the last five games would rank higher than the Ravens middle-of-the-road pass rush.
Red zone has been an even bigger turnaround. Seattle is scoring touchdowns on nearly 80% of the red zone chances over the past four games. They torched a very strong red zone defense last week in Minnesota, and will face another this week in Baltimore. A big reason the Ravens have stayed in so many games this year has been their ability to limit opponents to field goals. Their injured offense will need them to repeat that feat this week if they hope to upset Seattle.
While not a Seahawks weakness, it should be noted that the Ravens run defense is quite good. Seattle brings in arguably the best run offense in football. Both sides will be tested when the Seahawks run the ball.
Ravens defensive weaknesses vs Seahawks offensive strengths
Baltimore ranks dead last in interception rate and are 30th in takeaways. Seattle has been far more aggressive throwing the ball recently, and it looks like they can continue that trend without a lot of risk against this Ravens secondary.
If you look at the Ravens’ rankings across the passing categories (yards, yards per attempt, completion rate, interception rate, sack rate), you will notice they are average or below average in each category. This Seahawks pass attack against a suspect secondary bodes well for Seattle.
Baltimore also struggles in 3rd down defense, where the Seahawks have been hyper-efficient in recent weeks.
This looks like a game where the Seahawks should be able to lean on their newly prolific passing attack to move the ball. Their ability to convert in the red zone may be the difference between a close game and another blowout.
Ravens Offense vs Seahawks Defense
Ravens offensive strengths vs Seahawks defensive weaknesses
Well…this is not a pretty picture for the Ravens. It is a wonder that Baltimore has managed to be competitive in so many games with an offense this limited. Their only real strength is an offensive line that has protected their quarterback well. Even with Matt Schaub taking over, the protection has been solid. That will be tested this week as the Seahawks are tied for 2nd in the NFL in sacks.
Another area to watch will be the Ravens propensity for throwing interceptions versus a Seahawks defense that has not done a great job of creating them this year. It has improved of late for Seattle and Schaub certainly remembers the Seahawks ability to run back interceptions.
Schaub has been able to continue throwing for a decent amount of yards, throwing for over 300 last week, so the Seahawks secondary could be facing a better passing threat than Teddy Bridgewater. Should Jimmy Clausen come in, all bets are off.
Ravens offensive weaknesses vs Seahawks defensive strengths
Baltimore struggles on 3rd downs and in the red zone. They are facing one of the best situational defenses in football. That makes it hard to see how the Ravens will be able to score more than 6-12 points.
They are also not a great running team, and will be facing an elite run defense.
In sum, the Ravens offense does not run the ball well, does not convert 3rd downs or red zone opportunities, has a non-explosive passing game that turns the ball over at an alarming rate.
Seattle dominated an offense that possessed a single strength last week, and it was a major strength. This offense has no strength. The Seahawks defense should hold this team under double digits. Anything more than that would be a bad day.
Seahawks kicking vs Ravens returning
Ravens kicking vs Seahawks returning
It should come as no surprise that a John Harbaugh team is excellent in special teams. Harbaugh came up as a special teams coach, and it played significant roles in their Super Bowl runs. They are the best punt return and punting team in the NFL. Seattle needs to be careful to keep the Ravens return game in check. That is one way the Ravens could make this a closer game than it should be.