Capping the Game

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Going in, I think we know what to expect from both teams, lots of handoffs. It's not in the Saints best interest to be flinging the ball all over the field against a Raven's D that is 1st in picking off passes. And the Ravens, well, they just don't know how to pass, so they'll do what they always do, hope against hope that they can find a running game so someone can get open downfield running those antiquated pass routes. I suspect that the Ravens will have slightly better numbers rushing, but not good enough to force the Saints into any kind of adjustment.

The Saints will pass when they have the field position, and when Drew hits the key completions they'll score. Hopefully, the coaching staff has some "specials" up their sleeve so that we get TDs in of FGs on a couple of occasions. The Ravens will pass in the same situations, but as I indicated, they won't be as successful as the Saints are through the air.

The key to the game is favorable field position - how often each team can start beyong the 40 yard line, where the risk/benefit ratio is such that the coaches will temporarily shelve their fears. The stat that jumps out at me is Punts, where the Saints rank 2nd in forcing them, and the Ravens rank 31st in avoiding them. The Saints aren't strangers to punting either, and the Ravens do force a lot of punts as well, so we can expect an incredible amount of punts Sunday. Maybe more than anybody has seen this year. With field position being at a premium, I'd say that the punt return game is a big, big factor. The Saints have a slight advantage on paper in this category, otherwise I wouldn't bet them, but if either team gets a return for a TD they win.

I'm going to go ahead and bet on the Saints and lay the 2 points. It should be a tense game, one that the TV announcers will call boring, but people who know how to watch a game will be on he edge of their seats.
 

BiloxiSaint1

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I disagree

Going in, I think we know what to expect from both teams, lots of handoffs. It's not in the Saints best interest to be flinging the ball all over the field against a Raven's D that is 1st in picking off passes.
The Raven's D is 2nd overall in rushing yardage allowed. The Saints D is about 22nd in rushing yardage allowed. Lots of handoffs would be a distinct advantage to the Ravens. That's the kind of game the Ravens would want the Saints to play.

As far as passing goes the Ravens D got 6 of their 11 INTs against Tampa Bay (Simms) and Oakland (Walter coming in for an injured Aaron Brooks), so I think that stat is not indicative of the Ravens D pass coverage abilities.

The Ravens defensive backfield is pretty banged-up. Carolina got 356 yards through the air against the Ravens.

I trust the match-up of a healthy Drew Brees (2006 passer rating 92.8) and his decision-making ability with his play-makers in the passing game versus a very banged-up Steve McNair (2006 passer rating 64.1) coming off of 5 interceptions in the last 2 games who has been showing poor decision making.

IMO Sean Payton will just continue with the same balance on offense that he has shown so far this year and challenge the Ravens to give him a reason to adjust or change his game plan.
 

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