The Seattle Seahawks continued their winning ways last Sunday as they absolutely annihilated the Minnesota Vikings by a score of 38-7. Russell Wilson continued to step up his game with another three-touchdown performance after completing 21-of-27 passes for 274 yards against the Vikings. Wilson, now has thrown 11 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in his last three games. These performances in the last three games are what you would expect out of the second-highest paid quarterback in the NFL. It would have been very easy for Wilson to mail it in the rest of the season after the Arizona loss, as he was getting plenty of well-deserved criticism. However, for the Seahawks and the 12s Wilson has stepped up and let his performance on the field speak for itself.
Baltimore has struggled all season long thanks in part to a slew of injuries that has decimated them on both sides of the ball. The matchup with Seattle will have a strange feel to it as Jimmy Clausen will very likely get his second chance at the Seahawks' defense after facing them in Week 3 while a member of the Chicago Bears.There is also the chance that Matt Schaub could get the start, depending upon how recovers from shoulder and knee injuries suffered last week against Miami. In order for Baltimore to stay in this football game against the Seahawks the Ravens are going to have to cause a couple of turnovers to create a short field for their offense. They also are going to have to take care of the football and get the running game going early. If Seattle eliminates the running game of the Ravens like they did against Adrian Peterson and the Vikings things will get ugly early.
Seattle at Baltimore
Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET (Sunday)
Spread: Seattle -5
Three Things to Watch
1. Seahawks' defensive aggressiveness
One very encouraging end result of the rout of Minnesota was the Seattle defense flying around and getting back to having fun as a unit. Michael Bennett practically lived in the Vikings' backfield all afternoon long. Bennett graded out with a plus-7.8 rating from Pro Football Focus in the Minnesota game. Rookie defensive end Frank Clark also had a bit of coming out party last week as he graded out with a plus-5.0 rating, thanks in part to his two sacks. The entire defense's tackling in the open field was some of the best by the Seahawks all season long. Thus, with the likelihood of facing a third-string, recently signed quarterback in Jimmy Clausen or backup Matt Schaub it will be important for defensive coordinator Kris Richard to unleash the hounds and attack the Ravens all day long.
2. The continued improvement of Seattle's offensive line
This unit while still not great has gotten better as the season has gone along as Russell Wilson has at least had a little bit of a chance to not have to run for his life during the current three-game winning streak. The offensive line is going to have to control things early so Thomas Rawls can get the running game rolling and then just stay disciplined in passing situations so Wilson can quickly get the ball out to his receivers. Patrick Lewis taking control of things at center since regaining the starting job prior to the Week 10 loss in Arizona has helped a great deal. Another contributing factor has been Wilson staying a little more disciplined when feeling the rush, hanging in longer ;and creating plays from the pocket.
3. Seahawks' passing game
While you never want to lose a player the caliber of Jimmy Graham to injury the Seahawks' wide receivers did a nice job last week of picking up the slack in the passing game. Tyler Lockett was on fire as he had seven receptions for 90 yards along with Doug Baldwin, who is arguably having the best season of his career. It is going to be vital for offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell to get some easy throws called for Wilson to play pitch and catch with Lockett and Baldwin so the Ravens aren't able to stack the box in an attempt to stop Thomas Rawls and the running game.
This game should be a sound decisive victory for the Seahawks as the Ravens are going to be too limited offensively if Jimmy Clausen starts at quarterback and probably a little too mistake-prone if it's Matt Schaub under center. Look for the passing game to get in a rhythm early and get Seattle an early lead to set the tone right away. If the Seahawks play undisciplined early on against Baltimore that is going to be dangerous as they can’t afford to give the Ravens any hope that they can win this matchup. If Baltimore is allowed to stay in the game until the fourth quarter, then all bets would be off as the Ravens have secured each of their four wins on the final play of the game this season. In the end, Seattle knows that it in all likelihood will be the top NFC wild card team after Sunday as the Vikings should lose to Arizona. That No. 5 seed would set the Seahawks up to play the NFC East champion during wild card weekend. Overall, look for the Seahawks to take care of business to get to 8-5, setting up two very winnable home games against Cleveland and St. Louis.
Prediction: Seahawks 31, Ravens 16
— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and also writes for College Sports Madness, covering college football, basketball, softball and baseball.