Coming off a thrilling victory over their biggest rival, the last thing the Baltimore Ravens need is to slip up against a beatable opponent. The visiting Ravens will try to remain focused while looking for a third consecutive victory Sunday against a Seattle Seahawks team hoping to avoid their first four-game skid in almost two seasons. Trailing Pittsburgh by four points with 2:24 remaining last Sunday night, Baltimore (6-2) drove 92 yards, capping a 13-play drive when Joe Flacco hit rookie Torrey Smith for a 26-yard touchdown pass with 8 seconds left for a stunning 23-20 victory at Heinz Field.
The Ravens' win completed a season sweep of Pittsburgh and left them in a tie with Cincinnati atop the AFC North. The Ravens hope they will not suffer a collective hangover from last weekend's emotional victory when they face Seattle (2-6) for the first time since a 27-6 road loss to the Seahawks on Dec. 23, 2007. Joe Flacco has thrown for 636 yards the past two weeks - including 238 after halftime in rallying Baltimore from an 18-point deficit against Arizona - after being held to a season-low 137 in a 12-7 loss at Jacksonville on Oct. 24. Smith, meanwhile, has become one of Flacco's favorite targets with eight receptions for 128 yards over the last two contests. Smith came through in the end at Pittsburgh after he committed a penalty to negate a Ray Rice TD run on the game's first play and dropped a potential touchdown pass earlier on the winning drive.
If there is an area of concern for the Ravens, it might be how well they have stopped the opposition of late. Despite the positive results, Baltimore yielded a combined 47 points to the Cardinals and Steelers after giving up 50 during its previous four games. However, the Ravens defense has allowed only 279 yards per game, second in the NFL. They look to get back on track against the Seahawks, who have been outscored 63-28 during their three-game skid. Trying to avoid losing four straight for the first time since dropping the final four of the 2009 season, Seattle has found the end zone only twice over the last three games. Both have come courtesy of running back Marshawn Lynch, who scored late in last Sunday's 23-13 loss at Dallas.
With 10 penalties at Dallas, the Seahawks have committed 29 over the last three games and at least eight in six contests in 2011. Their 70 penalties on the season rank second in the NFL behind Oakland's 84. Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson threw three interceptions against the Cowboys to increase the Seahawks' turnover total to 12 over the last five games. LYnch did run for 135 yards last Sunday to become the first Seahawk to top 100 rushing yards in a regular season game since Justin Forsett's 130 during a 27-17 win at St. Louis on Nov. 29, 2009. One of the few Seahawks to have faced the Ravens, Lynch rushed 27 times for 84 yards and a TD against Baltimore while with Buffalo in 2007.
Considering how much success Flacco has had in the short passing attack over the last two games, it might be wise for offensive coordinator Cam Cameron to keep that part of the strategy. The Seahawks rank 18th against the pass in the NFL, which will likely invite a few deep balls from Flacco to Smith. RB Ray Rice should be able to find significant running lanes against a defense ranked 13th against the run. Seattle will try to blunt the Ravens' pass rush by handing off the ball to Lynch, but the Ravens rank third in the league against the run. The defense will try to force the Seahawks to win on the ability of either Tavaris Jackson or Charlie Whitehurst. Sorry, not going to happen. Baltimore comfortably.