Well, the New Orleans Saints took another loss this Monday, falling to 3-6 against the Baltimore Ravens, losing 27-13. Now the Saints travel to take on the Pittsburgh Steelers in Acrisure Stadium (no, it is not Heinz Field anymore). In this article, I will cover how the Saints’ passing offense and Steelers’ passing defense have performed so far this season, and then will project how these two units will match up against each other this Sunday. So, without further ado, let’s get right into it.
How have these two units performed this season?
Starting off with the Saints’ passing offense, it has been productive on the stat sheets but has had its fair share of struggles, especially on 3rd downs. They rank 6th in the league in passing yards (2,344), 9th in the league in yards per catch (7.5), 14th in the league in completion percentage (65%), T-6th in the league in passing touchdowns (15), T-1st most interceptions (10), T-12th highest passer rating (90), 11th most passing first downs (106), and have allowed the 13th least amount of sacks (19). Note that this is not on an exceptionally high amount of passing attempts either, ranking 11th most with 314 attempts and 10th most with 204 completions.
On the other side of the ball, the Pittsburgh Steelers have struggled immensely with protecting against the passing game. They have allowed the 4th most passing yards on the season (2,218), the 2nd highest yards per pass attempt in the league (7.5), T-1st most passing touchdowns allowed (17), T-4th most passing first downs allowed (107), T-8th highest passing first down conversion rate allowed (36%) and have the 7th lowest number of sacks this season (15). The only categories they have been average or above in are completion percentage allowed (T-6th lowest allowed - 61.3%) and interceptions (T-7th most - 8).
How will these units perform against each other?
Well, on paper, this should be a hugely dominant unit for the Saints this weekend considering the giant statistical disparity between the two teams. Except the negative connotation is that the Saints will be without Michael Thomas for the year, potentially Jarvis Landry this week (though he could play), and with Ryan Ramczyk and Erik McCoy going down against Baltimore, the offensive line has taken a beating.
The other issue is that Andy Dalton has been faltering these last 3 games, with a combined stat line of 962 passing yards, 8 touchdowns to 4 interceptions, 3 of the 4 games having less than 230 passing yards, a combined QBR of 91.5, with a 63.77% completion rating. Is this the worst combined stat line of all time? No. But it is bad enough to warrant some concern about what happened and why he has been struggling immensely compared to when he first took over.
On the other side, Pittsburgh could be getting back T.J. Watt for this game according to various reports (because of course he’s going to play), which would hugely boost their pass rush, especially if the Saints are missing pieces on the offensive line. Being able to pressure the QB and make Dalton force passes or throw it away more likely is going to be a huge key to the Steelers finding success this week and could be the reason the Saints struggle to pass this week. Overall, the Saints have the advantage on paper and statistically for now, but keep an eye on the injury report, as if Watt makes his return this week, it could flip things rather quickly in the Steelers’ favor.