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Ravens vs. Seahawks: scouting report

A breakdown of the Ravens and Seahawks offense, defense, special teams and intangibles.

PASSING GAME

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RAVENS: With Matt Schaub ailing, Jimmy Clausen took all the first-team snaps in practice during the week. Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday that the team wasn't sure who will start, but all signs point toward Clausen. He's 1-11 as an NFL starter and hasn't won a game since Dec. 19, 2010, when he beat the Arizona Cardinals while with the Carolina Panthers. With Crockett Gillmore doubtful and Nick Boyle out, tight end Maxx Williams figures to get a career high in snaps.

SEAHAWKS: After a relatively slow start, quarterback Russell Wilson might be playing the best football of his young career. He's not in the top 10 in the league in passing yards, but he ranks second in completion percentage (68.5), third in yards per attempt (8.51) and third in quarterback rating (106.2). Over his past three games, he's thrown for 879 yards, 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. Top receiver Doug Baldwin has six touchdown receptions over the past four games. (EDGE: SEAHAWKS)

RUNNING GAME

RAVENS: Rookie Buck Allen has shouldered the load since Justin Forsett went down with a broken arm against the St. Louis Rams. In two games as the starter, Allen has 29 carries for 118 yards and caught 16 passes for 136 yards and two touchdowns. Terrance West (Northwestern, Towson) has also impressed the coaching staff with the way he's finished runs. The Ravens badly need to establish their running game early against the Seahawks to take some heat off the quarterback.

SEAHAWKS: Marshawn Lynch has missed five games and remains out with an abdominal injury, yet the Seahawks running game continues to flourish. Seattle leads the league with 146.6 rushing yards per game, and rank second behind the Pittsburgh Steelers with 4.8 yards per carry. Thomas Rawls, an undrafted free agent out of Central Michigan, has four 100-yard rushing games in six career starts. He's 10th in the NFL in rushing on just 141 carries. Wilson also has 450 rushing yards. (EDGE: SEAHAWKS)

RUSH DEFENSE

RAVENS: In last week's loss to the Dolphins, the Ravens gave up 137 rushing yards, the third most of the season, and Lamar Miller became the third opposing back to gain more than 100 yards against the Ravens. The uncharacteristic performance dropped the Ravens to 10th in the NFL against the run heading into a matchup with the league's top ground game. The Ravens have allowed two rushing scores over the past seven weeks. Inside linebacker Daryl Smith is seventh in the NFL with 95 tackles.

SEAHAWKS: Heralded more for their prized secondary, the Seahawks continue to have one of the NFL's best run defenses. Last year, Seattle allowed 81.5 rushing yards per game, the third fewest in the NFL and one spot ahead of the Ravens. This season, they are surrendering 87.8 yards per game on the ground, which also ranks third. Seattle has three extremely active linebackers in Bobby Wagner, Bruce Irvin and K.J. Wright. Wagner and Wright each have 89 tackles. (EDGE: SEAHAWKS)

PASS DEFENSE

RAVENS: The statistics show that this group has improved steadily, but Sunday should tell a better story. Since coming off their bye four weeks ago, the Ravens have allowed the NFL's fewest passing yards per game and the second fewest net yards. Seattle, however, represents a step up in class. Dean Pees' defense has had success using Jimmy Smith and Shareece Wright on the outside and Lardarius Webb in the slot. The Ravens have one interception over the past eight games.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle's secondary, long considered the top defensive backfield in the league, has looked vulnerable at times this season, albeit mostly against quality quarterbacks. Still, they rank fourth in fewest passing yards allowed per game (220.5), tied for first in fewest touchdown passes allowed (11) and 11th in sacks (31). From edge rushers such as Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril to defensive backs such as Richard Sherman, Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas, the talent in this group is second to none. (EDGE: SEAHAWKS)

SPECIAL TEAMS

RAVENS: This is the one area where the Ravens might have the advantage over the Seahawks. The Ravens do need to tighten up on kickoff coverage, and they can't afford for Justin Tucker to misfire on field-goal attempts in close games. Tucker has already missed seven field-goal attempts, one more than he missed in his first two NFL seasons combined. Seattle gets touchbacks on less than 48 percent of their kickoffs, so Raheem Mostert and Kaelin Clay should get return opportunities.

SEAHAWKS: The Seahawks seem to have found another middle-round gem in third-round NFL draft pick Tyler Lockett who ranks seventh in the NFL in kickoff return average (26.2). He has a kick and a punt return touchdown this year. Seattle has allowed two special teams touchdowns and is surrendering 13.8 yards per punt return, the second most in the league. Former Ravens kicker Steven Hauschka is 22-for-23 on field-goal attempts but he's missed three extra-point attempts. (EDGE: RAVENS)

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INTANGIBLES

RAVENS: The Ravens are 17-1 in their last 18 home games against NFC teams and 12-1 all-time at home against teams from the West Coast. But history hasn't mattered much this season, nor has home-field advantage. They are 2-3 at M&T Bank Stadium in 2015. Injuries have depleted the Ravens roster and the same mistakes pop up every week. Their minus-11 turnover ratio is the second worst in the NFL. The Ravens haven't played a winning team since the Arizona Cardinals on Oct. 26.

SEAHAWKS: Pete Carroll's team is rounding into form just in time for another playoff run. Wilson is playing at an extremely high level, the running game has been dominant and the defense is starting to regain its swagger. Going to the Super Bowl in back-to-back years, the Seahawks seemingly turn into a different team in December, and it's going to take far more than a trip across the country to affect them. Seattle is 23-5 in the second half of regular seasons since 2012, and they still have a lot to play for. (EDGE: SEAHAWKS)

PREDICTION

The Ravens have been consistent with one primary thing all season: keeping games close. Their eight combined losses are by 34 points, and their first 12 games have all been decided by a league-record eight points or fewer. However, the bet here is that string ends this week. Ravaged by injuries, the Ravens just don't have enough weapons to threaten Seattle, either offensively or defensively. With Schaub's penchant for big mistakes, this one could get ugly at M&T Bank Stadium. These teams are headed in different directions. SEAHAWKS, 31-10

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