The New Orleans Saints continued to use their strong rushing attack in week 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders, with lead back Alvin Kamara having a breakout performance and football player Taysom Hill also having a quality game on the ground. They will look to continue this success into week 9 against a strong Baltimore Ravens team, who currently sit at 5-3. In this article, I will discuss how the Saints’ rushing offense and Ravens’ rushing defense have performed so far this season, as well as how we should expect them to perform against each other this week. So without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these units performed this season?
As previously mentioned, the Saints’ run game has been on a tear so far this season and ranks top 10 in most rushing statistics. They rank 7th in rushing yards (1,130), are tied for 7th in yards per carry (5.0), tied for 6th in rushing touchdowns (9), are 7th in rushing first downs (62), and are 7th in rushing first down percentage (27.7%). The only major statistic they struggle in with rushing is fumbling, where they are tied for the 6th most on rushing downs with 4, however, most came very early in the season. Overall, this unit has been producing the large majority of the season, and while it is not the best in the game, it certainly ranks among the best in many of the categories.
On the other side of the ball, the Ravens have also been stout as well, producing some of the better statistics this season, as well as eye-test production. Keep in mind with this, that the Ravens have seen the 7th least amount of rushing attempts against them this season with 179 so far. With that said, they have allowed the 8th least amount of rushing yards (780), the 14th-lowest YPC (4.4), are tied for the 8th most rushing touchdowns allowed (9), have allowed the 13th lowest amount of rushing first downs, but the 7th highest rushing first down percentage (27.4%). Overall, a very solid unit that has some gaps, primarily red-zone rush stopping and third-down defense.
What to expect from these two units on Monday
Now we have the question of which of these two units should come out on top, which is a tough one. With Mark Ingram out for 3-4 weeks, someone else on this Saints depth chart is going to need to step up to exploit the north-south power running spot, considering the Ravens’ struggles at stopping it. Dwayne Washington had a fine appearance against Las Vegas with 4 rushes for 13 yards, but nothing necessarily mind-boggling. Look for Jake Funk or Jordan Howard to be called up off the practice squad this week before the game to potentially fill that role in the coming weeks.
The logical idea for the Saints right now would be to use Taysom Hill for all that he is worth, as he has the speed and power to run strong and run through people. If the Saints utilize Hill as they did against the Raiders and the Seattle Seahawks, expect this rush attack to get going early and often, which would allow Alvin Kamara to get going on the outside once that happens. If they refuse to use Hill, however, as they did against the Arizona Cardinals and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, it could be a mixed bag of good or bad rushing. Overall, the Saints stack up well here on paper, so they should get the better of this matchup as long as they play their cards right.