Baltimore will kick off its final six-game stretch in front of a national audience on Monday Night Football against the Saints.
Here are five things to watch in the game:
Refreshed Or Rusty?
The Ravens are coming off their bye and have to wait around until Monday night to play. So it will be 15 days since their last game. Teams coming off their bye are a collective 10-16 this year, which flies in the face of the conventional thought that a squad should be better with extra rest and time to prepare for the next opponent. Watch to see how the Ravens start the game to see if there is some rust or if they have an extra spring in their step.
Drew Bees Getting Hot
Saints quarterback Drew Brees usually steps up to the plate on primetime. In his last six Monday Night Football games, Brees has a staggering quarterback rating of 142.7. The last time the Ravens faced Brees was in Baltimore in 2010. The Ravens held him to 29-of-46 passing for 267 yards and three touchdowns. They succeeded in taking away the big play and making Brees check the ball off for short gains. The Ravens are the only NFL team Brees has never beaten in his career.
Secondary Gets Tougher Test
Speaking of not giving up the big play, it will be on that revamped Ravens secondary to get the job done. Baltimore held Tennessee Titans rookie quarterback Zach Mettenberger in check prior to the bye, but that's a much easier task than tying down Brees. Safety Will Hill will be in charge of not allowing deep plays and cornerbacks Anthony Levine and Danny Gorrer will be seeing extensive action once again. Can they follow up with a strong encore?
Battle In The Trenches
The Bengals had a lot of success running against the Saints last week as rookie Jeremy Hill went for 152 yards. Cincinnati rushed 36 times compared to just 22 passes. That helped the Bengals chew up the clock en route to a 27-10 win. At the same time, Cincy stopped Saints running back Mark Ingram's three-game streak of rushing over 100 yards. That made the Saints one-dimensional. Similarly, Baltimore also must win at the point of attack. The Ravens have to run well and stop the run. Steve Smith Sr. called the NFC South a "finesse" division. Baltimore will look to exert its will.* *
S. Smith Sr.'s Mojo
Steve Smith hasn't scored a touchdown in any of the past four games, and he's averaged just 39 receiving yards per game over that span. But Smith has been a thorn in the Saints' side over the years. He has more receiving yards against them than any other team in the league. Smith has shredded his former NFC South rivals this season. Will the Saints be what gets him back on track?