GAME OVERVIEW ::
BY HILOW >>
- Gus Edwards managed a full practice on Thursday after a ‘DNP’ Wednesday, meaning he should be good to play on Sunday through a toe injury.
- Tyler Lockett went from ‘DNP’ on Wednesday to limited on Thursday while DK Metcalf went from full participant on Wednesday to ‘DNP’ on Thursday.
- Seahawks HC Pete Carroll has made a point of singling out rookie RB Zach Charbonnet in both press conferences this week – not exactly actionable intel, but worth mentioning nonetheless, particularly because Week 8 was the first game all season that the rookie out-snapped the incumbent this season.
- The Ravens lead the league in points allowed per game (15.1) and have given up just three rushing scores and six passing scores this season.
How SEATTLE Will Try To Win ::
The Seahawks continue to be a team looking to shorten games, doing little to put teams away before the fourth quarter, where they look to fundamentals and defensive prowess to wear their opposition down over time. It’s hard to argue against the way they approach winning games with them now in control of the division, even if it requires a bit of variance to work in their favor. Seattle ranks 12th in overall pace of play at 28.2 seconds per play and 10th in pass rate over expectation (PROE) under offensive coordinator Shane Waldron, a slight departure from previous seasons. As we’ve covered throughout the season, the Seahawks prefer to utilize elevated rates of 12-personnel via Noah Fant, Colby Parkinson, and Will Dissly, only increasing their 11-personnel rates should the game environment dictate a more pass-heavy approach. What has been most different in 2023 when compared to previous seasons is the offense’s tendency to lean fully into the pass if the matchup suggests that to be the easiest way to move the ball. In other words, the Seahawks are actively looking to exploit the matchup presented by their opponents, as evidenced by their extreme PROE last week against the Browns, as opposed to previous seasons, where they simply attempted to do one thing really, really well (run the football).
Week 8 marked the first game this season where Charbonnet (59 percent) out-snapped incumbent lead back Walker (41 percent). Even so, Walker saw 10 running back opportunities to just seven for Charbonnet, likely influenced by the Seahawks’ most pass-heavy game plan this season against the Browns. This comes a week after Walker saw 29 running back opportunities against the hapless Cardinals with Charbonnet out of the lineup, meaning it isn’t enough data to call a trend just yet. It’s much more likely that the pass-heavy game plan against a tough opponent tilted the snaps a bit more in favor of the rookie. Even so, that discussion bears noting against a Ravens defense that ranks fifth in DVOA against the run but first against the pass, allowing 4.1 yards per carry and 1.35 yards before contact compared to an elite 4.2 net yards per attempt through the air. If we view Waldron as the offensive mind that will tailor his game plan to the opponent, we should expect a more run-balanced attack in this spot. To me, that is likely to lead to Walker as the primary backfield body after a week of sparse usage. Even with the Ravens easier to attack on the ground, this is still a defense allowing the fewest points per game (15.1) and just three rushing scores this season.
Considering the likeliest path of attack (run-balanced), we should expect inflated rates of 12-personnel from the Seahawks based on previous tendencies. That should serve to limit the snap rates of all primary pass-catchers, most notably rookie slot man Jaxon Smith-Njigba. The obvious caveat with that statement is the uncertainty surrounding the game-day statuses of Lockett (improving practice trend) and Metcalf (troubling practice trend). Furthermore, the team elected to make a one-for-one swap to Jake Bobo on the perimeter as opposed to drastically increasing Smith-Njigba’s involvement in the offense when Metcalf missed Week 7. The Ravens have run top-10 rates of man coverage this season, as their secondary has enjoyed relative health (after three years of terrible injury variance), against which Metcalf leads the team in targets-per-route-run rate by a wide margin (elite 37.5 percent). That said, neither of the team’s primary options jumps off the page from an efficiency standpoint against man this season, with Metcalf putting up 0.52 fantasy points per route run against man (25th) and Lockett managing just 0.44 fantasy points per route run against man (35th), per PFF. Last week, against the man-heavy Browns, Lockett led the team in receiving while going 8/81/1 on nine targets while Metcalf managed an inefficient 5/67/0 line on 14 targets. So while they combined to account for a 62.2 percent team target market share against heavy man utilization, their combined efficiency proved the modest marks through half the season against man.