Gridiron Gab Week Fifteen Preview – New Orleans at Baltimore

Opponent: New Orleans Saints

Record: 10-3

Head Coach: Sean Payton

Big Test

The Saints come to Baltimore playing their best football of the season. On the other end of the spectrum the Ravens offense have struggled to run the ball and have been inconsistent protecting quarterback Joe Flacco. Defensively, the Ravens gave up a 21 point lead in their game against the Texans on Monday night.  Sunday versus the Saints is a huge test for the Ravens defense and the Ravens offensive line.

The Saints

It all starts with quarterback Drew Brees who is in command of the offense.  Brees has thrown for 3855 yards, with 28 TD’s and 18 Int.’s.  The Saints have numerous weapons on offense with receivers Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Robert Meachem and TE Jeremy Shockey. RB Reggie Bush who has been sidelined for most of the season must be accounted for on the field. The run game is lead by Chris Ivory who averaging 5.3 yards a carry.  The unit is ranked 7th in points scored (25.4) and 3rd in passing yards at 285. The run game is ranked 22nd at 101.1 yards.

Of late: The Saints are taking deeper shots down field and spreading out defenses. Rookie tight end Jimmy Graham is becoming more involved in the offense. Running back Pierre Thomas is back in the fold after being injured.

The Saints defense have played consistent this year.  The unit is ranked 5th in points allowed,18.9.  Against the run they are ranked 16th (107.8 yards). Linebacker Jonathan Vilma (88 combined tackles, 4 sacks and 3 forced fumbles) covers a lot of ground. The secondary plays the pass well ranked 5th and surrendering just under 200 yards a game. The Saints utilize their safeties well.  Strong safety Roman Harper is an impact player with 6 forced fumbles, 3 sacks and 1 interception.  Free safety Malcolm Jenkins in another impact player and has filled in well for the injured Darren Sharper.  Cornerback Tracy Porter has 1 and 1 forced fumble.

Player Match-ups:

LT Michael Oher vs. DT Sedrick Ellis: Eliis has 5 sacks on the season. Oher and the offensive line have to tighten up protections.

Ravens O-line vs. Saints D-line: The Ravens may continue to go with Oniel Cousins at right tackle (as they did Monday night) and Marshal Yanda at right guard in an effort to improve the run game. The Saints are ranked 16th against the run this year.

QB Joe Flacco vs. SS Roman Harper: Looks like teams will continue to bring their safeties until Flacco can audible to a quick pass (hot read).

RB Ray Rice vs. LB Jonathon Vilma The Saints have an excellent secondary and the Ravens will want to establish the run.

Ed Reed vs. Drew Brees: The Saints spread out defenses and will attack the secondary, Reed didn’t have his best game against the Texans, he’ll be an important factor slowing down the Saints offense. Brees is playing true to form now, but he does have 18 interceptions on the season.

T-Sizzle/D-line vs. Saints O-line: You think the Ravens defense will go with the 3 man rush after last week? Let’s hope not. A key will be the pass rush, getting to Drew Brees. Suggs will need to have a good game.

Ravens Linebackers vs. TE Jeremy Shockey: Linebackers McClain and Gooden must be physical in order to throw the with the Saints Tight end off his routes. Shockey is the third leading receiver on the team with 37 receptions and 3 TD.’s.

CB Josh Wilson vs. WR Marques Colston: It’s looking like Wilson is matching up against the opponents number one receivers. Colston has 76 receptions, 921 yards 7 TD’ and is averaging 12.1 yards a catch. A tough match-up for any cornerback.

PLAYER WHO MAKES THE HIGHLIGHT FILM:

Jonathan Scruggs: Ed Reed

After a down week against the Houston Texans, Ed Reed will need to have a bounce back outing against the New Orleans Saints. Early forecasts for the game suggest cold and snow/rain. If the Ravens are going to win it’s going to start with Ed making Drew Brees pay for mistakes made in sloppy weather.

Matt Jergensen: Terrell Suggs

“Pressure is the name of the game on defense. Matt Schaub threw the game away on the play before the Josh Wilson’s pick. Suggs was in the end zone grasping at the Texans starter looking to start the Safety dance. He caused the game to change. Hopefully he’ll do it again against a great offense.”

Gene Winner: Ray Rice

“The Ravens coaches aren’t done trying to make this a more physical offensive line. Look for Ray Rice to have some success this game.”

Recent News:

Cousins officially moves up depth chart

“Oniel Cousins’ stint with the starters against the Houston Texans was not an experiment, as his name was officially promoted on the Ravens’ latest depth chart.Cousins started his first game of the season – and the fourth of his three-year career – at right tackle in the Ravens’ 34-28 overtime victory. Cousins’ addition to the first team let Marshal Yanda slide down to right guard, his more natural position. And, it also meant the Ravens could use former starting right guard Chris Chester, one of the Ravens’ most athletic linemen, rove as a blocking tight end in a jumbo package. It is unknown whether Cousins’ starting role is permanent, but the depth-chart change means Cousins is at least expected to be with the ones this weekend against the New Orleans Saints.”


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