Ravens vs Saints: Division leaders will face off when the New Orleans Saints return from their bye to take on the Baltimore Ravens. The Saints (4-1) enjoyed their week off after thrashing the Redskins on “Monday Night Football” to conclude Week 5. Even though New Orleans didn’t play last week, its lead in the NFC South grew to a full game following Carolina’s 23-17 loss to the same Washington team that the Saints beat by 24 points.
The Ravens (4-2) are coming off of a 21-0 whitewashing of the Titans on the road. That coupled with Cincinnati’s loss to Pittsburgh has Baltimore tied for first record-wise with the Bengals in the tightly packed AFC North. Because of their 1-2 showing in divisional games thus far, the Ravens trail Cincinnati from a tiebreaker standpoint. But there are still plenty of games left.
The Ravens lead the all-time series, 5-1 and have beaten the Saints three straight times.
New Orleans at Baltimore
Kickoff: Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4:05 p.m. ET
Spread: Ravens -2.5
Three Things to Watch
1. Baltimore’s beat-up secondary
Injuries among the Ravens’ defensive backs have been rampant this year. Four of them are already on injured reserve and will definitely not be available on Sunday. Cornerback Anthony Levine Sr., has sat out some practice time due to hamstring problems. Anthony Averett has not played in the past four games for the same reason. Another cornerback, Brandon Carr, has been limited by knee issues. The plethora of hobbled and missing defensive backs leads to the next, broader question.
2. Can the Ravens cool off Drew Brees?
The Ravens must pressure Brees and not let him stay in pocket to carve up their secondary. The Saints rank third in the NFL in both total offense (424.0 ypg) and passing offense (320.8 ypg). Brees is averaging 332 passing yards per game and is the only quarterback who has started every game and has yet to throw an interception this season (in 190 attempts).
Baltimore needs to find a way to prevent yet another offensive explosion by the Saints. The Ravens are No. 1 in the NFL in total defense (270.8 ypg) and second against the pass (188.0 ypg), but some of that has do to with the teams they have played. Buffalo, Cincinnati, Cleveland and Tennessee all rank 20th or worse in the league in total offense, with the Bills and Titans checking in at 30th and 31st, respectively.
However, one thing Baltimore has done a very good job of is getting to the quarterback. The Ravens lead the league with 26 sacks, a number that is by and large due to the 11 they registered last week against Tennessee. Even though the Ravens have just five interceptions on the season, they are holding quarterbacks to the lowest completion rate (55.6) and fewest yards per pass attempt (6.0). But outside of Ben Roethlisberger, Brees will by far be the best quarterback Baltimore has faced this season.
The Ravens cannot realistically compete with the Saints in a scoring fest. Baltimore leads the league in scoring defense at 12.8 points per game allowed as only one team (Cincinnati) has managed more than 14 points. New Orleans comes in averaging a league-high 36 points per game. Something has to give.