The Saints will take on the number one defense in the league on Sunday and will have their hardest test thus far of the season. Here a 5 things to keep an eye out for.
What a time for the offensive line to get banged up. Baltimore boasts the best pass rush in the league and starting left guard Andrus Peat has been ruled out. Back up Jermon Bushrod won’t make the trip as sadly, he is mourning the loss of his new born daughter. Additionally, starting right guard Larry Warford is questionable. Josh LeRibeus will most likely start in place of Peat, and if Warford is unable to go, Cameron Tom could see his first playing time of the year.
With the offensive line banged up and the aggressiveness of the Ravens defense, screens could be a big component of the game plan this week. In my most recent film study I talked about how Josh Hill has gotten involved in the screen game. Hill, as well as Benjamin Watson could see an increase in snaps to help with pass protection and run blocking.
Tre’Quan Smith will need to build off his two touchdown game, especially with Ted Ginn placed on injured reserve. He doesn’t possess the top end speed that Ginn brought to this offense, but he has enough to fill in at that role as the deep threat. He has also been adequate in the run game, able to provide key blocks on some big runs.
Baltimore receiving group may not be anything to write home about, but that doesn’t mean they should be underestimated. Michael Crabtree is a savvy veteran who knows how to run routes effectively while also using his size to take advantage over smaller corners. John Brown is the speedster of the group who ran a 4.34 40-yard dash, but has struggled to find a consistent role since entering the league. And finally we have the former Saint Willie Snead IV. We know Snead as the go to guy to on third downs and not much has changed in Baltimore. He has been able to convert 6 third downs for a first so far this season, and stopping him from making those conversions will be a key.
Drew Brees is attempting to do something only Brett Favre and Peyton Manning have accomplished—beat every NFL team. Brees will face a Baltimore defense that likes to do a lot of pre-snap movements in an attempt to confuse the quarterback. Luckily, Brees is likely the most cerebral quarterback they will face this year, and there isn’t much that he hasn’t seen in his career. His ability to call audibles at the line could prove to be the difference and help him get his first win against Baltimore.