- Associated Press - Saturday, December 12, 2015

BALTIMORE (AP) - Though evidently still not ready for prime time, the Seattle Seahawks are definitely looking more like defending NFC champions.

The Seahawks (7-5) have won five of six to move into the middle of the playoff hunt, and they intend to keep the momentum going against the injury-depleted Baltimore Ravens (4-8) on Sunday.

“We’ve been battling all year long,” Seattle coach Pete Carroll said. “Like the Ravens, we’ve been in a lot of close games that we didn’t turn in our favor that could have made a big difference in our season early. We’ve hung together, and we’re trying to finish this thing off.”

The game was originally scheduled for Sunday night. Back in September, it looked to be an attractive matchup between two perennial contenders. But while the Seahawks have recovered from a slow start defined by tantalizingly tight defeats, Baltimore hasn’t broken the habit.

Worse, the Ravens have 16 players on injured reserve, including starting quarterback Joe Flacco, top receiver Steve Smith and linebacker Terrell Suggs.

Thus, the perceived mismatch was moved to 1 o’clock, which translates to 10 a.m. on the West Coast. Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson doesn’t expect that to be a problem.

“Most games - except the ones we have in California or Arizona - we usually leave on Friday,” he said. “So that way we can kind of wake our bodies up and get ready to go.”

The Ravens hope to have enough bodies available to pull off an upset. Matt Schaub, who took over for Flacco two weeks ago, was banged up in last Sunday’s 15-13 loss to Miami and is iffy for the Seahawks.

“Right now, we’re taking it day by day, hour by hour,” he said midweek.

Some things to know about the first meeting between the Seahawks and Ravens since 2011:

WILSON ON A ROLL: Over the past two weeks, Wilson is 42 for 57 with eight touchdown passes and no interceptions. He threw for five scores in a win over Pittsburgh, then shredded the Vikings in a 38-7 rout.

“They build their offense around his talent,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “He has a heck of an arm. Obviously, he can read things out. He throws on time.”

Wilson’s stellar play has been instrumental in the Seahawks’ resurgence.

“I feel like we’re playing great football right now,” he said. “We just want to continue that.”

DOMINANCE AT HOME: This marks the first of three straight home games for the Ravens, who have won 17 of their last 18 at home against NFC foes.

This year, however, is unlike any in recent memory. Although Baltimore appears a lock to endure its first losing season since 2007, Harbaugh hopes the crowd at M&T; Bank Stadium will show its support for a team that hasn’t quit playing hard.

“I’m really hopeful that the fans - the Ravens fans - take the situation for what it is and recognize the way we’re playing,” he said. “It’s a team that’s fighting like crazy.”

RAWLS ROYCE: Lost in the performance by Wilson last week was yet another 100-yard rushing day from rookie Thomas Rawls, who finished with 101 yards on 19 carries. It was his fourth 100-yard game of the season and provided Seattle with its 23rd straight game with at least 100 yards rushing - tied with Carolina for the longest active streak in the NFL.

Rawls is 10th in the league with 786 yards rushing and is on pace to be the first Seattle running back other than Marshawn Lynch to rush for 1,000 yards since Shaun Alexander in 2005, when Alexander was league MVP.

KEEPING IT CLOSE: Every one of Baltimore’s games this season has been decided by eight points or fewer, and the Ravens’ eight defeats have come by a total of 34 points.

It’s difficult to imagine how much longer Baltimore can compete against some of the better teams with so many starters sidelined with injuries.

“Well, we’re pretty numb to it now,” said receiver Kamar Aiken, the team’s primary outside threat since Smith tore his Achilles tendon in Week 7. “We’re just rolling, to be honest. We really haven’t had any time to sit back and really think about all the injuries or sit here and sulk on them.”

FLASHBACK: The last time Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman played against Schaub, he was a difference maker.

Late in the fourth quarter in Houston two years ago, Sherman jumped a third-and-4 pass intended for Owen Daniels and returned it 58 yards for a touchdown to tie the game at 20. Seattle had seen Schaub run that play repeatedly in that situation and knew the pass was coming.

Seattle went on to win in overtime.

“Yes, I do have fond memories of that game and it being a comeback,” Sherman said.


AP Sports Writer Tim Booth contributed to this story.


AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL

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