Following their victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Thursday Night Football in Week 8, the Baltimore Ravens will face another NFC South opponent in primetime in Week 9, this time the New Orleans Saints on Monday Night Football. The Ravens will be looking to their continue their first win streak of the season before their bye week while the Saints are fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive. With that in mind, what are some of the key matchups to watch in Monday’s contest?
Ravens’ ground attack vs. Saints’ run defense
Baltimore’s rushing attack has returned to dominance in recent weeks with only the Chicago Bears having more rushing yards for the season. New Orleans on the other hand ranks 14th against the run with 900 rushing yards allowed through eight weeks. After rushing for 231 yards against the Buccaneers, the Ravens will likely keep the ball on the ground for much of this week’s game as well considering that All-Pro tight end Mark Andrews is doubtful to play and top wide receiver Rashod Bateman has been ruled out for the remainder of the season with a foot injury.
Baltimore could potentially be without their top two running backs this week as J.K. Dobbins is currently on injured reserve and Gus Edwards is doubtful to play with a hamstring injury. This should not deter the Ravens from sticking to what they do best, however, as both Kenyan Drake and Justice Hill have played well this season when given the chance.
Roquan Smith and Patrick Queen vs. Alvin Kamara
Baltimore’s newest member on defense will be tested immediately against one of the league’s best running backs and pass catchers at the position in Alvin Kamara. Alongside Roquan Smith, Patrick Queen will also have to be ready for the challenge of limiting New Orleans’ explosive playmaker out of the backfield.
Kamara totaled three touchdowns against the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 8 — two of which coming through the air. Kamara’s prowess as a pass-catcher from the backfield makes him a particularly tough assignment for linebackers. In just six games this season, Kamara has caught 33 passes — second on the team — for 287 yards and two touchdowns to go with his 413 yards and one touchdown on the ground.
Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters vs. Chris Olave
The Saint’s first-round rookie wide receiver has earned his draft status so far this season. Through eight games, Chris Olave has caught 37 passes for 547 yards and two touchdowns. Without Michael Thomas in the lineup for most of the season, the No. 11 overall pick out of Ohio State has been the top weapon for New Orleans’ offenses, leading the team in both receptions and yards.
Olave has mostly lined up on the outside so far this year, meaning he will predominantly face Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters on Monday. Humphrey has been excellent this season while Peters has struggled in moments — as expected of a player returning from a serious knee injury at his position. Wide receiver Jarvis Landry is listed as questionable for Monday night’s contest, but even if the veteran does suit up, expect Olave to see a fair amount of targets.