Week 9 is almost upon us, and with that we have a huge test for the New Orleans Saints, to see if they can get the better of the Baltimore Ravens, who enter this matchup 5-3 with the Saints at 3-5. The Saints are coming off a defensive performance that was all-around amazing, shutting out the Las Vegas Raiders 24-0 and holding Josh Jacobs to 43 rushing yards, and Davante Adams to only 3 receiving yards. In this article, I will be covering how the Saints’ run defense and Ravens’ run offense have performed so far this season, and then predict how they will perform against one another in this Monday night matchup. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these units performed so far this season?
Starting off with the Ravens’ rushing offense, they have one of the best in the league statistically, both due to a stout run game from the halfbacks and also an amazing dual-threat QB in Lamar Jackson. So far this season they rank 6th in rush attempts (234), 2nd in rushing yards (1,325), 1st in yards per carry (5.7), is tied for 3rd in rushing first downs (75) and are first in rushing first down percentage (32%). The only struggle they have had is putting it in the endzone on the ground, with 7 rushing touchdowns (T-14th lowest). This rushing offense is not only productive, and not only efficient but lethal. Having a QB who has put up 500+ on the ground so far this season is a huge benefit to their success obviously and has promoted their offensive success this season.
On the other side of the ball, the Saints’ run defense has been pretty middle of the road in all but first-down prevention. They have seen the 13th least rushing attempts against them with 201, allowing 900 rushing yards (14th lowest), 4.5 YPC (T-15th highest), 7 rushing touchdowns (T-15th highest), 46 rushing first downs (T-9th lowest), and a 22.9% rushing first down rate (8th lowest). Overall, the run defense played phenomenally last weekend, but in their last matchup against a mobile QB against the Arizona Cardinals, allowed 92 yards to Eno Benjamin and 30 on 7 attempts to Kyler.
What should we expect from these units matching up?
This is truly going to be a battle of Lamar Jackson vs whoever can keep up with him in the front 7. We have never seen Lamar go against the Saints as the starter, as last time they played in 2018 Jackson was the backup to Joe Flacco. But we have seen Jalen Hurts have his way with the Saints, but also Kyler be relatively tame against them as well, so this is a difficult one to predict.
One thing working in the Saints’ favor is that J.K. Dobbins is obviously out with his knee injury, being placed on IR late in October. Backup Gus Edwards also has not practiced yet in two sessions, which does not bode well for him playing. This would leave Kenyan Drake as the starter with Justice Hill and Mike Davis as the rotational backs, which is obviously not optimal. If Gus does not play, this should help the Saints focus down and run a huge amount of QB contain/keep someone as a spy and go all out to prevent him from running. Will that work? TBD. But as of right now, the Ravens should have the edge in these two units matching up until we know more about Gus Edwards’ status.