NFL GAME PREVIEW

Week 12 NFL Preview: Ravens at Saints

The Sports Xchange

November 20, 2014 at 11:49 am.

 

Torrey Smith could be in line for a big night against the Saints. (Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports)

Baltimore Ravens (6-4) at New Orleans Saints (4-6)

Monday, 8:30 p.m. ET, at Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans – TV: ESPN

*TV announcers: Mike Tirico, Jon Gruden, Lisa Salters

*Keys to the game: Saints RB Mark Ingram leads the NFL in rushing since Week 8 with 459 yards and while the Saints will shorten the playbook this week, a physical running game is still a focus. Baltimore’s personnel will make life difficult for Ingram, with DL Haloti Ngata and ILB C.J. Mosley spearheading Baltimore’s stout run defense (84.5 yards per game).

Baltimore catches a break with deep threat rookie WR Brandin Cooks (thumb) on injured reserve. There’s still the quandary of solving Saints TE Jimmy Graham. The key for the Ravens is always ratting the quarterback, and Drew Brees is not on top of his game of late sensing pressure and delivering against blitz looks.

To start, defensive coordinator Dean Pees will pair safety Will Hill and Mosley on Graham and adjust regularly to keep Brees out of a comfort zone.

Even if they fall behind, the Ravens are dedicated to pounding the football to try to control the clock and keep Brees on the sideline. QB Joe Flacco should have ample chances to launch a deep ball or two to WR Torrey Smith, considering the Saints are down to a third-string safety minus Jairus Byrd and Rafael Bush.

*Matchup to watch – Ravens WR Jacoby Jones vs. Saints coverage teams: Jones has a 108-yard kickoff return this season and the New Orleans native had one of his best games as a pro in the Superdome in February 2013, helping the Ravens win Super Bowl XLVII with a long touchdown catch and a kickoff return touchdown. The Saints have not allowed a long return this season.

*Player spotlight – Ravens DE Elvis Dumervil: Dumervil is on a tear with 10.5 sacks and is on pace to tie his career-high of 17 sacks established in 2009. He combines power and speed off the edge. Brees has an ultra-quick release and is the most accurate quarterback in NFL history.

*Fast facts: Ravens WR Steve Smith needs one touchdown to become the sixth active player with 80 in his career. … This is the ninth “Monday Night Football” appearance for Baltimore under coach John Harbaugh and seventh on the road (5-3). The Saints are 11-3 on MNF since Sean Payton was hired.

WHO WILL WIN AND WHY

The Saints at home in prime time have been a potent beast with Brees at the helm. If the Ravens withstand the initial jolt, Rob Ryan’s defense has too many soft spots to take down the well-balanced Ravens.

*Our pick: Ravens 30-22

 

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