Overwhelming Majority of Pundits Pick Ravens to Beat Seahawks
Note to Lamar Jackson: If you're reading this, you might want to scroll past the next five paragraphs.
When a reporter started to ask Jackson about his 17-1 record against NFC teams ahead of Sunday's home game against the Seattle Seahawks, the Ravens quarterback playfully put his hands over his ears and rapidly shook his head in exasperation.
"We're playing football. It's not about NFC or AFC," Jackson said with a smile. "I'm trying to win regardless. I don't even want to put that in my head or let you finish that question."
Regardless of whether he wants to acknowledge it, Jackson's superiority against NFC teams is indeed a thing, and an overwhelming majority of pundits — 49 of the 55 we looked at — expect the trend to continue versus Seattle.
"If I see that the Ravens are playing an NFC team, I don't even need to know who it is, I'm just going to automatically pick Baltimore to win because they have Lamar," CBS Sports’ John Breech wrote. "Since he took over the Ravens' starting QB job in 2018, Jackson has gone 17-1 against NFC teams. That .944 winning percentage is the best by any QB against the opposing conference since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. At first, I didn't believe this stat, but it's definitely true because I looked it up on the internet and internet has never been wrong about anything.
"I'm not sure who should be in charge of organizing it, but all the coaches in the NFC definitely need to get together this offseason so they can brainstorm some ideas on how to stop Lamar. In his 18 starts against NFC teams, Jackson has totaled 37 touchdowns and just seven interceptions. He basically turns into Super Lamar, which is kind of frightening to think about, considering he already looks super even when he's not super."
Here's what pundits are saying about Sunday's game between the AFC North-leading Ravens (6-2) and NFC West-leading Seahawks (5-2):
Seahawks QB Geno Smith will have a tough time against the Ravens defense.
Breech: "The Ravens have surrendered the fewest points per game this year and the third-fewest passing yards, and Geno Smith hasn't done quite enough to make me think he can be productive against a defense like that."
The Athletic's Jeff Zrebiec: "Geno Smith has turned the ball over six times in the past three weeks. He won't be operating with much margin for error on the road against a good Baltimore defense."
**USA Today’s Jordan Mendoza:** "Baltimore is playing some of the best football in the NFL right now, and while this feels like a trap game, the Ravens defense makes it tough for Geno Smith to find rhythm. Baltimore pulls away in the second half for their fourth straight win and third straight week scoring at least 30 points."
The Ravens will rise to the occasion against a good team.
The Baltimore Banner's Giana Han: "The Ravens might be really good at playing down to their opponents, but they've also matched that by showing up in big games. They've beaten their toughest opponents thus far, and now they get to go home. There's a gauntlet of tough games coming up, but with this being the first, I expect them to show up. Lamar Jackson, the offense's leader, and Roquan Smith, the defense's leader, were very upset by their performances against Arizona. I would guess they'll be extra motivated."
**Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio:** "I think that it's too much to ask the Seahawks to go to Baltimore to face this Ravens team that is getting better each week, that is ready to separate from the pack at least in the division if not the rest of the conference. And there's no shame in losing this one if you're Seattle. … The Seahawks are good, [but] not good enough to steal this win."
The Seahawks find a way to win a close one.
**The Baltimore Sun’s C.J. Doon:** "This could resemble a typical AFC North slugfest the way both of these defenses are playing of late, but I'm giving the slight edge to Seattle because of its offensive talent. Running backs Kenneth Walker III and Zach Charbonnet will test the Ravens' interior, and receivers Tyler Lockett, DK Metcalf and Jaxon Smith-Njigba will take advantage of any weak spots in the secondary. It's asking a lot of Geno Smith to outduel Lamar Jackson on the road, but the 33-year-old veteran will be up to the challenge and deliver some more late magic."
The Baltimore Banner's Kyle Goon: "This feels like a gut check for the Ravens, who have so far played their best against their toughest opponents. But the matchups don't exactly favor the home team. Aside from the "statement" win against the Lions, the Ravens haven't been consistent enough in the past four weeks to be confident they'll be clicking on all cylinders Sunday."
The Seahawks defense presents a strong challenge for the Ravens offense.
NFL Network's David Carr: "The Ravens have tried to install this new passing game that's starting to play a little bit better; they still have the run elements. But Seattle has some good secondary pieces, so I'm curious to see how this RPO-style pass offense of the Baltimore Ravens will look against a bona fide top five defense in Seattle. This is going to be a great test for the Ravens."
How Jackson fares against the Seahawks' pass rush is a storyline to watch.
**ESPN’s Jamison Hensley:** "Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson has thrived under pressure this season, producing the highest yards per attempt (10.2) and second-highest completion percentage (55%) when under duress. He faces a Seahawks pass rush that ranks 10th in pressure rate (32%) and has recorded the fifth-most sacks this season (26)."
|7 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
|3 of 4 panelists pick Ravens
|“This is a good midseason test for both teams. The Ravens will have the best playmaker in Lamar Jackson and the better all-around defense. But Seattle will make them earn drives on offense and has the weapons to punish defensive lapses. The Ravens will build another early lead and hang on with support from their home crowd.” — Childs Walker
|8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
|5 of 5 panelists pick Ravens
|“In a week with a handful of heavyweight matchups, this slugfest between coastal elites might be my favorite. High-powered offenses, hard-hitting defenses -- what more can you ask for? Mistake-free football, if you're Pete Carroll. Seattle ranks second in the NFL in penalties per game, many of them of the pre-snap variety that put the Seahawks behind the sticks before they can even get going. They also rank in the league's bottom tier on third down -- both on offense (35.4%; 23rd) and defense (45.3%; 30th). The 'Hawks largely have been able to overcome their self-inflicted errors thanks to a very forgiving schedule (.368 strength of victory), but continued carelessness will not fly against the Ravens. Especially not at M&T Bank Stadium, where Lamar Jackson boasts a .765 career winning percentage (26-8) -- the fourth-best home win rate among active QBs since 2018.” — Ali Bhanpuri
|9 of 10 panelists pick Ravens
|Ravens 23, Seahawks 20
|“Geno Smith and Seattle have taken over first place in the NFC West, but it's a precarious position just ahead of bye-week San Francisco. Baltimore escaped in Arizona and is still ahead of everyone in a tough AFC North. The Seahawks tend to travel well to the East with Pete Carroll and are playing much better complete football of late. But they still have some key weaknesses that Lamar Jackson will exploit with his arm and legs at home, while Smith succumbs to a tricky pass defense.” — Vinnie Iyer
|8 of 8 panelists pick Ravens
|“The Ravens beat the Cardinals in lackluster style last week, while Seattle came back to beat the Browns and P.J. Walker. The Seattle defense is improving every week, and adding Leonard Williams will help, but this is a long trip against a team that can score. Look for Lamar Jackson to play better than he did last week.” — Pete Prisco
|Pro Football Talk
|2 of 2 panelists pick Ravens
|“I could see Seattle’s defense giving Baltimore some problems. They’ve got some big-time playmakers. What I really worry about is Seattle’s offense. … I think their offense is going to have a problem against this Ravens defense.” — Chris Simms
|6 of 7 panelists pick Ravens
ESPN Pundit Says Ravens Have 'No Glaring Roster Holes'
ESPN’s Jason Reid assessed the state of top playoff contenders post-trade deadline, and he believes the Ravens are in great shape even though they did not make any deals, saying they have "no glaring roster holes."
"Coach John Harbaugh and General Manager Eric DeCosta like the team they've built, and what's not to like?" Reid wrote. "Superstar quarterback Lamar Jackson is atop a deep and versatile roster. Jackson is completing 70.5% of his passes, which ranks third in the league, for the AFC North leaders (6-2), who are tied for the conference's best record.
"On defense, the Ravens have been outstanding. Baltimore ranks both first in yards per game and points per game, limiting opponents to only 15.1. The Ravens have the look of a team built to succeed in the postseason."
Baltimore Positive's Luke Jones had a similar take.
"The cost of acquiring [defensive end] Chase Young was intriguing, but I was otherwise OK with Baltimore standing pat at the trade deadline compared to deals that were made," Jones wrote. "Face it, this team is already a legitimate contender if Lamar Jackson is healthy, and nothing else really matters if he isn't."
Roquan Smith Is a 'Big Fan' of Mike Macdonald's Aggressive Style
The impact Roquan Smith has made on the Ravens defense since being acquired in a trade a year ago cannot be overstated, but the All-Pro inside linebacker gives much of the credit for the unit's success — No. 1 in scoring and No. 2 in yards — to Defensive Coordinator Mike Macdonald.
"I have a great deal of respect for Mike as our coordinator and the positions that he puts each and every player in week in and week out, because you never know when your number's going to get called in this defense, and when your number is called you definitely have to make it count because you're not knowing when your next time is going to be," Smith said on NFL Network's "The Insiders."
When discussing Macdonald's aggressive style, Smith said, "I've been other places in the past that don't blitz as much and things of that nature. Mike's a fiery guy. He lives by the sword, dies by it, but I think he's very cerebral, smart, in the way he plans and is able to change it up week in and week out, so I'm a big fan of it."