Ravens at Saints Preview

Sports and Bets — November 24, 2014 at 7:07 pm by

The last time the Ravens were at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, they were hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Tonight, the Ravens (6-4) will be battling the Saints (4-6) in a pivotal Week 12 match-up for both teams. The Ravens need a win in the worst way, as they are in the AFC North cellar after a week that featured wins from the Bengals and Browns, while the Steelers had a bye. Despite dropping two straight games, the Saints are still in first place in the putrid NFC South. This is a big one, folks. Let’s crank up the Hank Williams Jr., and get down to business.

2014 Stats (per game)
Points – Baltimore: 26.1, New Orleans: 26.1
Points Allowed – Baltimore: 18.1, New Orleans: 25.2
Passing Yards – Baltimore: 240.7, New Orleans: 299.8
Rushing Yards – Baltimore: 124.1, New Orleans: 124.7
Passing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 251.2, New Orleans: 255.2
Rushing Yards Allowed – Baltimore: 84.5, New Orleans: 114.7
Turnover Differential – Baltimore: 0.1, New Orleans: minus 0.9

Ravens Injury Report
WR Michael Campanaro – Out (Thigh)
T Jah Reid – Out (Hand)

Saints Injury Report
LB Kyle Knox – Out (Hand)
WR Robert Meachem – Questionable (Ankle)
RB Khiry Robinson – Out (Forearm)

Ravens’ Offense vs. Saints’ Defense
Over New Orleans’ two straight losses, they gave up a total of 330 rushing yards. That’s a formula for success that the Ravens would love to emulate with Justin Forsett. The best way to limit the Saints’ high-powered offense is though an effective, clock-controlling running game. Drew Brees can’t throw touchdowns from the sidelines, babes. Two players on the Saints’ defense that could give the Ravens problems are Junior Galette and Cameron Jordan. Last season, Galette and Jordan had 12 and 12.5 sacks, respectively. This season, Galette and Jordan have combined to record 11 sacks.

The Ravens really need Joe Flacco and Steve Smith Sr. to get back on the same page. Over the last four games, Smith has totaled only 155 receiving yards and no TDs. For a myriad of reasons, I’ve got a feeling that Smith is going to break out in a major way tonight. I think that the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time for the 35-year-old vet, and the Saints are 27th against the pass. Smith has roasted the NFC South this season, and he’s absolutely torched the Saints over his career. In three games against the NFC South this season, Smith has 15 catches for 316 yards and three TDs. In 12 career games against the Saints, he’s caught 99 balls for 1,493 yards and 10 TDs. Also, the last time Smith was on Monday Night Football, he provided the world with a gem of a post-game interview. This dude loves the big stage.

Ravens’ Defense vs. Saints’ Offense
Brees is still one of the top quarterbacks in the league, but his production has dipped this season. After averaging 42.7 touchdown passes over the last three seasons, Brees is on pace to throw only 30.4 this year. He also averaged 5,271.7 passing yards over those three seasons. This season, he’s on pace for 4913.6 passing yards. While Brees has been a slight disappointment, Mark Ingram has been a pleasant surprise for the Saints. The former Heisman winner has averaged 88.3 rushing yards per game, 4.5 yards per carry, and he’s scored six TDs, despite playing in only seven games. We already broke down how the Ravens are going to try to defend Jimmy Graham here. He’s pretty much the embodiment of the old Dan Patrick catchphrase, “You can’t stop him, you can only hope to contain him.”

The Ravens’ front seven will really need to come up huge tonight. They’ll have to stop the Saints’ running game to make them one-dimensional, and they’ll need to consistently pressure Brees to help out their shoddy secondary. I feel confident that they’ll be able to bottle up the Saints’ running game, but I have my doubts that they’ll be able to frequently harass Brees. The Saints are tied with the Ravens as the 4th best team in the league when it comes to limiting sacks. The Saints boast an excellent offensive line, and Brees gets the ball out of his hands about as quick as any quarterback in football. Elvis Dumervil, Terrell Suggs, and Pernell McPhee are all going to need strong performances if the Ravens’ defense is going to keep the Saints from lighting up the scoreboard.

Rapid Fire Facts
• The Saints haven’t lost three straight home games since 2005 (ESPN).
• “The Saints have won 12 straight home games in primetime (7 pm or later). According to Elias, that’s the longest streak since the 1970 merger.” (ESPN)
• Under John Harbaugh, the Ravens are 5-1 after a bye week (The Baltimore Sun).
• The Saints are 29th in the league at forcing turnovers.
• In Brees’ last six Monday Night Football games at home, he’s thrown 23 TDs and only two INTs (The Baltimore Sun).
• Brees has beaten every team in the NFL, but the Ravens.

Let’s go Ravens!

suggsbrees2

cover pic: The Baltimore Sun
Suggs/Brees pic: WNST
gif: Fansided

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