I’m going to be completely honest, I had no idea where to go with this article. Joe Flacco and Justin Forsett are injured, as are almost every functional NFL pass catcher on the Baltimore Roster. Terrell Suggs has made his sleeper MVP bid for 2016 by showing what the Ravens’ Defense looks like without him (hint: awful). I searched and searched and really could not find a spot where the Ravens scare me even a little bit. I think the real challenge this week for Seattle is to not play down to the opponent. I mean, Matt Schaub may be out and that would mean starting someone worse than Matt Schaub. Who could be worse than that!?! Oh…Jimmy Clausen. He of the “playing for the Bears and getting shut out in Week 3″ Jimmy Clausen. Ya, 2016 can’t come soon enough for Baltimore.
So, I have covered that Baltimore is not very good. I guess they are good in one area… Special Teams. They have a good kicker, a punter and punt coverage team that play well, and their returners have been above average. I don’t want to write about that. I am kind of bored thinking about writing about that. Instead, I want to talk about Buck Allen, so that way I can talk about our Defensive Line. Full transparency on this one.
Javorious “Buck” Allen is about the best thing going on the Baltimore Offense right now. When Justin Forsett broke his arm in Week 11 against the Rams it was clear that Allen would be getting the bulk of the reps. Since then, he has averaged 3.6 yards per rush. On the season that would be good enough for…36th. He’s right with Melvin Gordon of the Chargers. Ya, I know…this is supposed to be a positive thing about the Ravens. I’m trying.
Allen has been an alright runner, but he has been a bit better in the passing game. As the starter the last 3 weeks he has averaged 61 yards receiving per game. That is severely propped up by a 12 catch 107 yard game last week against Miami, but he does have at least 4 catches in each of those games and a receiving TD in his last 2. He can clearly catch the ball, and with a few long catches on the year he has shown that he can take a safety outlet pass and if a team misses a tackle he can get up field and get some yards.
So how do the Seahawks counter Buck Allen? Well…with a Run Defense that held the NFL leading rusher Adrian Peterson to 18 yards last week. Not really sure there is a lot more that needs to be said here. Buck Allen is very unlikely to gash this defense. Why is Buck Allen unlikely to gash this defense (aside from the fact he’s basically a league average runner)? That is a bit more interesting to look at.
Last week what stuck out to me beyond the fact that Richard Sherman looked like a cat playing with mice in the secondary and Michael Bennett looked like the best DE in all of football, was the fact that there were some kids making a big difference on this defense. Frank Clark, Cassius Marsh, and DeShawn Shead are young players who really looked like they belonged last week. Clark put up nice numbers with his 2 Sacks, 3 QB Hits, and those two passes he batted at the line. However, what really excited me was seeing Clark line up with Avril and Bennett and pulling stunts that not only put Clark in a great spot but also freed up Avril and Bennett. Throw in Cassius Marsh showing a wonderful ability to get outside and set the corner on run plays and this is a seriously fun depth influx to see at this time in the year.
A difference maker on the defense has been DeShawn Shead. He hasn’t been elite, and he doesn’t get a lot of pass breakups, but what he does is keep the receiver from getting a big play. Shead is insurance that the other team won’t break our defense, and his ability to do that frees up Earl Thomas to float a bit more as opposed to be tethered to Cary Williams so the top didn’t get removed from the D. The Seattle Defense has been playing like the Seattle Defense, and these three young players will go a long way toward how they play in the playoffs.
So I know this wasn’t the stat heavy analysis that you may be accustomed to from this segment, but the fact is that the Baltimore Ravens don’t require it. This game ought to be a cake walk. The only reason Seattle would lose is if they shoot themselves in the foot, and I believe they are far too focused to do that. Everyone sit back, relax, and watch Schaub/Clausen try to throw it for a win and probably give up 3 INTs.