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A healthier Ravens defense has a chance to prove themselves against Saints

Baltimore’s defense is set up nicely before their game against New Orleans.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Ravens have arguably their toughest matchup yet against the Saints on Sunday. Defending a Drew Brees-led offense, along with a one-two rushing punch of Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram, as well as the outside threat of Michael Thomas will be a huge test for Baltimore’s defense. If they can defend this prolific New Orleans offense, Baltimore’s defense should be considered the cream of the crop.

However, they struggled earlier on in the season against the Cincinnati Bengals’ passing offense, allowing 265 yards through the air and four touchdown passes from Andy Dalton. Since that game, Baltimore has allowed just two passing touchdowns — one from Ben Roethlisberger and another from Baker Mayfield.

The major difference between this Ravens defense and the one that gave up 34 points to the Bengals is their health. Since their debacle in Cincinnati, Baltimore has gotten back C.J. Mosley, Jimmy Smith, Tim Williams, Willie Henry and Michael Pierce back. Four of five players are starters and all of them are key contributors to the team.

Last week, Baltimore produced their first shutout of the season in a 21-0 defeat of the Tennessee Titans. In that game, eight different players had sacks with all sacks coming from different portions of the defense. Linebackers had eight sacks, with defensive backs having two and Chris Wormley was the lone defensive lineman with a sack on the day. Though none of the aforementioned players that returned contributed a sack, they all were able to play a key part in Baltimore’s passing defense.

Currently, the Ravens are tied for first in passing yards allowed per game (188), with quarterbacks passing for just a 73.1 rating against them (first in the NFL) and Baltimore leads the NFL in sacks (26). Though Brees is nowhere near the league leader in passing yards this season (1,658 passing yards, 16th in the NFL), he will still be a tough player to contain through the air. If anyone has forgot, he’s the NFL’s all-time passing leader.

As for Baltimore’s rushing defense, they have stymied rushers as well. Teams are averaging just 82.8 yards on the ground against the Ravens, which puts them at third place in the NFL behind the Philadelphia Eagles and you guessed it, the Saints. The Saints rushing offense is ranked 19th in yards per game (103.2 yards per game).

Altogether, the Ravens have the number one defense in the league. They’ve been able to defend the pass and stop the run at most points during the season. At 4-2, getting another win against a solid Saints offense would be able to propel the Ravens to possibly the division lead with the Bengals taking on the Kansas City Chiefs and the Steelers on a bye.

Before counting their chickens before they hatch, Baltimore’s defense will be tested against the likes of Brees, Kamara and Ingram. With the health that their defense enjoys at this juncture of the season, they could make things shake going forward and their true test begins against the 4-1 Saints.