Week 9 of the NFL season offers several high-profile matchups, and the most intriguing and hard-hitting matchup could center around Seattle’s trip to Baltimore.
The Ravens have quietly been the best team in the AFC, and Lamar Jackson is performing at an MVP level after signing a new $260 million contract extension.
Sunday will be a physical game battle in Baltimore, and Seattle will provide another opportunity to see if John Harbaugh’s group is ready for a deep postseason run.
With kickoff fast approaching, here are five things to watch.
Will Ravens commit to the run
During the Week 8 win over Arizona, Baltimore rarely ran the football, but once Todd Monken decided to ramp things up, Gus Edwards was all they needed.
In the 31-24 win, Edwards logged 19 carries for 80 yards and three touchdowns. He also had two catches for 14 yards. The 21 touches were his most since Week 17 of the 2019 season when he had 22 in a victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The running game can be Lamar Jackson’s friend, and will be watching to see if Baltimore continues this direction.
How Lamar Jackson performs against a stout defense
Lamar Jackson has been outstanding in wins over Cleveland and Detroit.
Seattle is ranked 15th overall in defensive DVOA and 16th in yards allowed per game. But over the past five weeks, the Seahawks are first in points allowed per game (12.5), fewest yards per play (4.1) and most sacks per game (5.3), and second in yards allowed per game (274), and they added defensive tackle Leonard Williams in a trade.
Will be watching to see how well Jackson performs.
Odell Beckham scoreless streak
Beckham has 14 catches on 26 targets, but he’s not Baltimore’s primary target, and he’s yet to make a meaningful play in the red zone.
We are watching to see how much Beckham will be involved.
Matchup of first round picks
Zay Flowers and Jaxon Smith-Njigba were drafted two picks apart last April and the dynamic pass catchers will have all eyes on them Sunday at M&T Bank Stadium.
Smith-Njigba has 23 catches for 209 yards and has scored touchdowns in back-to-back games.
Flowers has paced the Ravens with 44 catches for 461 yards and a score.
Elite linebacker play
The Ravens aggressively pursued Bobby Wagner, an eight-time Pro Bowler, before the 2022 season, but the tackling machine chose the Rams instead.
The trickledown impact of that move led to Baltimore acquiring Roquan Smith in a trade with the Bears and the rest is history.