The Ravens were dominant against the Titans last Sunday, plain and simple. In fact, it may have been the most dominant performance I’ve ever seen the team put together in my life. And while I would love to analyze the amazing game that Wink Martindale put together to generate constant pressure on Mariota, it simply isn’t worth it, as the Ravens have what I believe is their toughest home contest staring them in the face. We’ve seen this team lay eggs after big wins such as the one they had in Nashville, but if they do that at 4:25 on Sunday, they will end up leaving royally embarrassed.
New Orleans is sitting at 4-1, they are one of the best teams in the NFL, and they are coming off a BYE. Drew Brees and Sean Payton may not have beaten the Ravens in their career, but it’s going to take one heck of a game plan for that not to change. The Saints have an arsenal at Drew Brees’ disposal, so Baltimore’s defense will be heavily tested. As a result, this will be the week in which the Ravens’ incredible streak of not allowing a touchdown in the second half will be broken. I would love to see it continue, but it just isn’t an even remotely-realistic expectation.
Offensively, the Ravens will have a test, as well. The Saints defense has a lot of talent, even if they do give up their fair share of points. I expect Joe Flacco to be pressed for time, especially given Alex Lewis’ absence. At the same time, as a fan, I am excited to see Marcus Davenport for the first time. The bottom line is that Flacco will have to get the ball out of his hand quickly and, as Jason eluded to in this week’s podcast, work the seam. I expect a fired up Willie Snead who will score two TDs against his former team. Some mixture of Alex Collins, Buck Allen, or Gus Edwards will have to provide the offense some unpredictability, though this game will be won with Flacco’s arm.
At the end of the day, this is a game that I expected the Ravens to lose at the beginning of the year. I still feel that way, so it’s less important to me that they win this game than it is that they take two of these next three games (New Orleans, @ Carolina, Pittsburgh). If they do that and are sitting at 6-3 heading into their BYE, the Ravens will make the playoffs. With that in mind, the Ravens will drop this one to the Saints, and I’ll stick with my original score, though the game will be closer than it indicates.
Ravens: 23, Saints: 38