Seahawks X-Factors Who Could Make a Difference in Week 7
The Seahawks were able to leverage five turnovers last week into a 32-28 comeback win over the Browns, and while the team moved to 5-1 with the victory, they still haven’t quite hit their stride.
Despite the MVP play of Russell Wilson, much of the team has left room for drastic improvement, especially with a pass rush still struggling to generate pressure. Up next, Earl Thomas returns to Century Link Field as part of the Ravens and brings with him a score to settle with coach Pete Carroll.
Outside of the current league-wide favorite at MVP, who will emerge as Seattle’s biggest X-factors for this Week 7 matchup?
Offensive X-Factor: Jaron Brown
Baltimore comes into this game as the fourth-best defense against the run, allowing an average just north of 80 yards per game. Additionally, the Ravens have been ravaged with injuries in the secondary, and as a result brought in former All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters in a trade with the Rams earlier this week. The Seahawks are quite familiar with Peters, having played him three times in the last two years as a member of their NFC West rival. Wilson has picked on Peters in the past, manipulating him with his eyes and stretching the field against him with his receivers winning on double moves. It should be noted, however, that the Ravens secondary is a strength of the team. The combination of Marlon Humphrey, Thomas, and Peters should be a formidable secondary for any foe, which is why I believe that the biggest X-factor could be one of Seattle's reserve receivers. With DK Metcalf and Tyler Lockett on the outside, the Ravens are going to be set on stopping the deep ball. As the great eraser on the back end of the defense, Thomas will be patrolling center field to prevent any shots taken by Wilson. This sets up nicely for Jaron Brown, who caught two touchdowns last Sunday, to get open underneath on crossers and drag routes to exploit Baltimore’s aggressive defense.
Defensive X-Factor: Mychal Kendricks
To match up well with this potent Ravens offense, the Seahawks will have to stress discipline this week. Quarterback Lamar Jackson poses quite the nightmare to defend with his elite athletic tools and running ability. Seattle will have to be ready for a steady dose of Run-Pass Option (RPO) plays and designed quarterback runs. When Jackson operates the read-option play, a player like Mychal Kendricks has to be disciplined enough not to crash on the running back and leave the edge exposed. If he can button up his tackling a bit against a talented runner like Jackson and seal the edge, the Seahawks will have a much better chance to slow the dynamic runner down. He also should be a factor as a blitzer and in pass coverage lining up against tight end Mark Andrews, who leads the Ravens in receiving yardage. Look for Kendricks to play a lot of snaps and be a difference maker on defense this Sunday.
Special Teams X-Factor: Neiko Thorpe
He has yet to record a tackle this season for the Seahawks and missed three games with an injury, but there’s reason the Seahawks brought back Neiko Thorpe in free agency. The longtime special teams ace is due to make a big tackle or down a punt that pins the Ravens deep in their own territory. He has always been able to use his blazing speed as a gunner to get down the field and lock down returners in punt coverage. The Ravens average the second most return yardage on punts, so the Seahawks have to stress the importance of getting downfield and wrapping up opposing returners. Thorpe has long been a leader in this area and now that he’s healthy, he’ll prove he’s fully ready to make an impact.