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New Orleans Saints offensive line has been a standout unit

Ravens defense will present formidable test in Week 7

Saints 43 - Redskins 19 (W) New Orleans Saints 2018 Season Michael C. Hebert

The big, bad wolves will be at the door on Sunday in M&T Stadium.

The New Orleans Saints (4-1) might just have the offensive line to keep them there.

The Baltimore Ravens (4-2) don't just allow the fewest yards per game in the NFL (270.8 per game), have the second-stingiest pass defense (188 yards) and third-most frugal run defense (82.8).

Baltimore, in addition, has made life miserable for opposing quarterbacks: a league-leading 26 sacks, including a franchise-record 11 in Sunday's victory over Tennessee, and almost as many interceptions (five) as touchdown passes surrendered (six), on a league-low opposing completion percentage (55.6) and quarterback rating (73.1).

And, for good measure, the Ravens also allow the fewest points per game (12.8).

The counterpunch to that barbed wire just might be a Saints offense that has been as ruthlessly efficient handling its business as Baltimore has been in administering punishment.

The Saints lead the league in scoring (36 points per game), are third in total offense (424 yards) and third in passing yards (320.8). New Orleans' quarterback, Drew Brees, has been the most accurate in the league (77.9 percent completions, 11 touchdowns, no interceptions).

Arguably, the Saints offensive line that will be charged with holding Baltimore at bay has been the best in the league this season (Brees only has been sacked eight times, and New Orleans averages 4.1 yards on 25.4 carries per game).

New Orleans, which played mix-and-match throughout much of 2017 due to injuries, has been fairly stable across the line this season. Other than Josh LeRibeus starting twice at left guard for Andrus Peat, the unit of Peat, left tackle Terron Armstead, center Max Unger, right guard Larry Warford and right tackle Ryan Ramczyk has been creating the running lanes and pass protection.

"It's improved, and I think whenever you have continuity at that position, it helps," Coach Sean Payton said Wednesday. "Andrus is playing now, and I feel like we've improved there, last week (in the 43-19 victory over Washington) in particular.

"I like where we're at relative to the penalties; I think, total on the offensive line, we're one of the fewest penalized teams in football. There are always some little things you want to work on. This week will be a big test for us, but the continuity is something that's significant in our league."

COMING ALONG: With a team-high five catches (on five targets) for 71 yard against Washington, receiver Cameron Meredith appears to be rounding into form. Meredith has nine catches for 115 yards and a touchdown this season, after being inactive the first two games.

"Both he and Tre'Quan (Smith) had more opportunities," Payton said. "Ted Ginn Jr. (knee) missed the Washington game. We talked about this heading into the game, that eventually, that balance throughout your unit of receivers. We'll continue to look at that and keep finding ways to mix and match who's in the game and how we can get them the ball."

HELLO, OLD FRIEND: A familiar face plays for, and makes significant contributions to, the Ravens. Former Saints receiver Willie Snead, in his first season with Baltimore, is tied for the team lead in receptions (30), third in receiving yards (313) and has a touchdown. Snead played three seasons in New Orleans, where he caught 149 passes for 1,971 yards and seven touchdowns.

"He's in just the role you would envision," Payton said. "He's got a tremendous amount of grit, you see him making plays on third down, he's an outstanding blocker, he'll come across in motion, he'll get to the point of attack in the run game but he'll also find the holes in the zone and man-to-man coverages."

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