New Orleans and Baltimore face off in a prime time Monday Night Football matchup. The Saints have arguably been the NFL’s most disappointing team so far. They have a 4-6 record and are coming off 2 consecutive losses, both of which were at home, which would have been unheard of in recent seasons. This year has been a struggle from day one as the offense has not been able to find any consistency all season long. The defense has been far from dominant and was dominated last week by a Bengals offense that had looked horrible the prior week. Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton had the worst game of his career the prior week and then proceeded to go 16/22 for 220 yards and three touchdowns. The Saints secondary allowed a big game to A.J Green who went for 127 yards on 6 catches. The Bengals took a 7-3 lead early in the first quarter and they never looked back. Saints teams of recent seasons would often find themselves down and were never built on defense, but were always able to use their high-powered offense to put points on the board and get back into games. They had not lost a game at home by more than 17 points since 2004 before last weeks 27-10 loss. There was no pre season consensus about the Ravens prior to the season. Some people felt they were prepared for another Superbowl run while others felt they were not a team in playoff contention. After 10 games it is clear that they are most certainly in the playoff hunt and the Superbowl run may very well be possible. They lost two straight games before facing the struggling Titans last week and they needed a win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive. The team has always been built on a strong running game and their defense and they went back to that formula for the 21-7 win over the Titans, bringing their record to 6-4.
The Ravens have tried multiple people at running back since Ray Rice was released following a domestic violence incident. It appears that Justin Forsett has claimed the spot as the top running back. He had 20 carries for 112 yards and 2 touchdowns last week and may be what the offense needs to keep defenses honest and get quarterback Joe Flacco going. They are in a very tight division race, which makes every game critical.
The Saints are well aware that they haven’t performed to expectations this season. They have lost by 3 points or fewer on 3 separate occasions and still display their explosiveness from time to time but the consistency is not there. They will try and compete this week without receiver Brandin Cooks who has a broken thumb and safety Rafael Bush who has a broken leg. Brees is still the league leader in completion percentage so it will be up to the rest of the offense to make plays after the catch.
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