The New Orleans Saints, in the middle of the NFC South race at 4-6, look to bounce back after two straight defeats when they host the Baltimore Ravens on Monday Night Football in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
The contest marks the continuation of a crucial three-game stretch against AFC North opponents to close November. The Saints will play at Pittsburgh next week before returning to NFC South play when they host the Carolina Panthers on December 7. This will be the first time New Orleans has hosted Baltimore since a 35-22 Saints loss on Oct. 29, 2006.
Since the Ravens franchise was born following relocation from Cleveland in 1996, New Orleans and Baltimore have faced off only five times with the Ravens holding a 4-1 lead. Two of the five contests have been decided by seven points or less, including Baltimore's 30-24 victory at M&T Bank Stadium on Dec. 19, 2010. In the contest, QB Drew Brees led New Orleans back from a 21-7 second quarter deficit to tie the contest 24-24 in the fourth quarter on touchdown throws to TE Jimmy Graham and WR Lance Moore, but Ravens K Billy Cundiff sealed the victory with two late field goals.
In addition to holding their ground and looking to continue to control their destiny in the NFC South division race, New Orleans will be looking to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2012 and their first three-game skid at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome since between the 2006 and 2007 campaigns.
New Orleans enters tonight's game ranked second in the NFL in total offense, averaging 424.5 yards per contest. The Saints are third in passing (299.8 ypg.) and eighth in rushing (124.7 ypg.). New Orleans ranks 20th overall in total defense (tied for 19th against the run, ranked 24th against the pass).
Baltimore ranks 12th overall in offense and are 10th in rushing (124.1) and 16th in passing (240.7 ypg.). On defense, the Ravens rank 11th overall (fifth vs. the run, 21st against the pass). The Saints have not allowed more than 219 net yards passing to an opponent in the last three contests.
New Orleans is coming off of a 27-10 loss to the Cincinnati Bengals at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as the Saints were hurt by a failure to convert in key situations on offense, while surrendering several big plays on defense.
The Saints started fast when on the opening drive when Brees led them 67-yards in 14 plays, which resulted in a 31-yard field goal by K Shayne Graham. The Bengals took the lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from QB Andy Dalton to TE Jermaine Gresham on the next drive despite CB Corey White punching the ball out temporarily. On New Orleans' next drive that extended into the second quarter, Brees helped the Saints offense advance as far as the Bengals one yard line, however they failed to score in two opportunities from that point and gave the ball back to the Bengals with no points.
The Bengals would strike twice for field goals late in the second stanza. Starting at their own two-yard line on their first field goal drive, Dalton engineered a patient march down the field that led to a successful 22-yard kick. Late in the econd quarter, Bengals RB Jeremy Hill would have a 62-yard rush, setting up a 42-yard kick as time expired, giving Cincinnati a 13-3 halftime lead. Dalton would throw two more touchdowns in the second half as the Bengals defense would only allow the Saints to score one touchdown.
After making the corrections on film and enjoying a spirited, productive week of practice, Brees feels like the Saints are about to get on the right track.
"I'm confident we are able to come out this week with an extra day being that it's Monday Night Football, and because it's Monday Night Football, to really come out and make a statement as to how we see the rest of our season going."