The Ravens have their toughest individual test of the season on Sunday.
Against MVP favorite Russell Wilson, the Ravens will need their best performance of the year. And if they’re able to get that, they’d be three games over .500 headed into their bye week with the Patriots looming.
The rest of the division aside, the opportunity is there for the Ravens to pull ahead in the NFC North and the potential playoff race.
“It won’t make or break us, but it will go a long way in setting us up for where we’re headed down the road and what kind of season we’re going to have,” head coach John Harbaugh said.
The Ravens currently have a two-game lead in the division with the Browns and Steelers on a bye week. With a win, their lead would move to two and a half games ahead of their bye next week.
After that, the Patriots come to Baltimore for Sunday Night Football.
First, however, the Ravens are focused on the Seahawks, no matter how boring that may sound.
“I’m going to give you the cliché, but it’s the truth,” Harbaugh said bluntly. “We just have to focus on Seattle. So, how the schedule fell or how we fit...It’s better to be 4-2 than 3-3 or 2-4, but not as good as 6-0 or 5-1. That’s my thought on it. And 5-2 would be a lot better than 4-3.”
In order to get to 5-2, the Ravens will need to go through Wilson and his excellent season thus far. He hasn’t thrown an interception, has 17 total touchdowns and is on pace for nearly 5,000 yards from scrimmage.
“He’s playing at an MVP level, and I agree with that,” defensive coordinator Don Martindale said. “It’s sort of like playing against Steph Curry in basketball, if you will. You can pick him up from half court, and he’s going to try to drive by you when you’re saying ‘keep him in the pocket,’ or you can slack off, and he’s going to pull up and hit a three.”
Baltimore will get new addition Marcus Peters into the fold to help with a growingly injured secondary. He’s already played Seattle this season, so the Ravens are hoping he’ll be able to draw on that knowledge to face Wilson and the rest of the Seahawks offense.
But perhaps the biggest story of the secondary is the return of Earl Thomas to the Seattle.
The last time he was in a Seahawks uniform, he was carted off with a broken leg and flipped off his own sideline. He’ll return to his former team of nine years on Sunday.
“Hopefully they (the fans) respect what I've done, and I'll get a couple cheers, not too many boos,” Thomas said. “And whatever happens, happens, but hopefully it's love."
Aside from all of that, the Ravens say they’re not focused on 5-2 or what could come with a win over one of the NFL’s best teams and quarterbacks.
“We need to be 1-0 this week,” Harbaugh said. “We need to play our best football of the year in Seattle to win the game, and that’s what we’re planning on doing. And that’s what we’re going to work for.”
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