Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens, Saints each hoping to finish Week 9 atop their respective divisions

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Tyler Kaufman/AP/Shutterstock (13456821cz) An elevated general view of Caesars Superdome is seen before an NFL football game between the New Orleans Saints and the Seattle Seahawks, in New Orleans Seahawks Saints Football, New Orleans, United States – 09 Oct 2022

Monday Night Football Preview: Ravens, Saints each hoping to finish Week 9 atop their respective divisions

Baltimore Ravens (5-3) at New Orleans Saints (3-5)

Time/TV: 7:15 p.m. CT/ESPN

Monday Night Football preview: the New Orleans Saints head into Monday night’s showdown with the visiting Baltimore Ravens off a shutout win a week ago that seemingly breathed new life into an otherwise frustrating season. New Orleans plays in the incredibly weak NFC South, where a win would move them to 4-5 and into a tie for the lead with the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Saints Defense Shines

Most exciting for the Saints coming out of last weekend’s blowout win was their defense, which held the Las Vegas Raiders scoreless on just 183 yards and 3.3 yards per play. The Raiders managed just 2.9 yards per rush, an especially important portion of last week’s performance for New Orleans’ defense to replicate if they are to topple the run-heavy Baltimore attack. 

Ravens Rookies Will Need To Step Up

The Ravens, who rank second in the NFL with an average of 165 yards rushing per game, will need to lean on players they aren’t necessarily used to relying on, with Rashod Bateman, Mark Andrews, J.K. Dobbins, and Gus Edwards all unavailable. Kenyan Drake and rookie Isaiah Likely will need to be important outlets for quarterback Lamar Jackson for Baltimore to find success, something they’re hoping is aided by the ten days they’ve had to prepare entering Monday night.

Baltimore has played well on the road this season, going 3-1 – but they’ve also been no strangers to incredibly close games. Six of the eight games the Ravens have been involved in have been decided by five or fewer points, experiences they’ll hope to draw on should the game hang in the balance late at the Caesars Superdome. 

The Saints’ defense has struggled with mobile quarterbacks this season, allowing 68 combined points in their matchups with Kyler Murray and Marcus Mariota earlier this season. Lamar Jackson represents the pinnacle of that category, a player who will test the Saints’ ability to set an edge and make tackles in space all night long. On the other side of the ball, Baltimore is hoping that their big defensive reinforcement will pay off immediately.

The Ravens traded for Roquan Smith, the NFL’s leading tackler, earlier this week in hopes that his ability to pursue the football and lead a defense will help them create better results on that side of the ball. That will be put to the test against an unpredictable New Orleans offense that has averaged the eighth-most points in the NFL in 2022. 

Baltimore’s attention should be fully focused on finding a way to win at New Orleans Monday, especially given the much-needed bye they have on deck. With so many offensive contributors banged up, many young contributors will have an opportunity to prove their worth on a massive stage.

A win would move the Ravens to 6-3, maintaining their one-game lead over the Cincinnati Bengals in the competitive AFC North. New Orleans, who won’t face another opponent currently over .500 until their New Year’s Day tilt with the Eagles, knows that a win Monday night could provide a major boost in a very winnable division. 

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