The Seahawks (5-1) host the AFC North-leading Ravens (4-2) at CenturyLink Field Sunday afternoon, a game that will feature two of the league's best and most exciting quarterbacks in Russell Wilson and Lamar Jackson, as well as the return to Seattle of former Seahawks safety Earl Thomas. To learn more about Seattle's Week 7 opponent, we reached out to BaltimoreRavens.com staff writer Ryan Mink with six questions about the Ravens:
Q: Obviously there will be a lot of attention on Earl Thomas' return to Seattle? How is he approaching this game, and more significantly, what has he brought to Baltimore's defense in his first year as a Raven?
Mink: You all probably know Earl better than me at this point, but one thing that's abundantly clear is that he's a business-like guy. He'll be locked in this week on the task at hand and will try to block all the extra noise out. That said, there's no doubt that he'll be feeling some different emotions on Sunday. He said he likes when he plays with emotions, so we'll see how that helps him. Earl has fit in well here. The Ravens lost a lot of leadership with Terrell Suggs, Eric Weddle and C.J. Mosley walking out the door, and Earl has helped offset some of that with his demeanor and quiet leadership. That said, it's been a big transition for him to learn this complex defense, so he's been at the same time a teacher and student.
Q: From afar it appears Lamar Jackson is having a great second season. What has he done to elevate his game to an even higher level after an impressive rookie campaign?
Mink: He became better at everything it takes to be an NFL quarterback. He has a deeper understanding of the offense, manages the game better and, most importantly, is throwing the ball better. Lamar can beat teams with his arm if they don't respect it. He's even a better runner than he was last year, and he was already one of the best ever at that part of the game. He's just grown in every area.
Q: The Ravens gave up more yards and the same amount of points in a Week 3 loss to Cleveland as they have in their past two games, both victories. What has gone into the defensive turnaround, or was that Week 3 game just a bad day at the office, so to speak?
Mink: The Ravens added veteran inside linebacker Josh Bynes and made some other tweaks to the lineup. You wouldn't think Bynes, a guy who was literally on the golf course during that brutal Browns game, would be the fix-all solution, but he's really stabilized the unit and had a ripple effect. Patrick Onwuasor has moved back into his more natural weakside linebacker spot and the Ravens are stopping the run a lot better just by Bynes and everybody being in the right place. Baltimore was giving up too many big easy plays just by being totally out of position. Now they're not doing that. But still, that was against the winless Bengals and banged-up Steelers, so we'll see how much better the defense is this Sunday against a much better offense.
Q: With a bunch of tough opponents coming up over the next six weeks, how much is this game looking like something of a benchmark for the Ravens, who, like the Seahawks, have mostly beaten teams with losing records so far this season?
Mink: Exactly to my last point. The Ravens are looking at this game as a measuring stick for sure. If you want to be good team, you have to beat good teams. The Seahawks are certainly that, and even tougher at their place. The Ravens have the Seahawks, Patriots, Texans, Rams, 49ers and Bills all coming up. They're two games up in the AFC North, but that lead could evaporate quickly if they don't measure up.
Q: Turnovers can be fluky at times, but how big of a concern are Baltimore's seven turnovers in the past three games after committing zero in the first three, especially heading to Seattle to face a defense that had four takeaways in Week 6?
Mink: The Ravens' offense is very talented and dynamic. It's biggest problem has been shooting itself in the foot. They know if they clean that stuff up (fumbles, interceptions, dropped passes, penalties), they truly can be one of the best offenses in the NFL, which is something we haven't said here in Baltimore in … well … ever.
Q: What can the Marcus Peters trade do for the Ravens defense?
Mink: He will suit up Sunday and certainly helps what was a very banged-up defense. Peters will have just three days of practice under his belt, but I imagine the Ravens will make his assignments more straight-forward and let him do what he does best: get physical with corners in man-to-man coverage and try to pick off the quarterback. Russell Wilson, as you well know, hasn't thrown an interception yet. The Ravens are hoping Peters, who has the most interceptions (24) in the NFL since he entered the league in 2015, can snap that streak.
The Seahawks and the Ravens will meet this Sunday at CenturyLink Field for the seventh game of the 2019 season. Take a look back at photos from past games between the two teams.