Monday, November 24, 2014

A Little Help from the Saints, Please

The Steelers look to get a little help from the Saints in New Orleans tonight, as the Saints take on the visiting Ravens.

It's worth noting that the Saints have not only won 14 consecutive prime time TV games at home, they've won by an average of 20 points per game.

And it's worth noting that Baltimore quarterback Joe Flacco simply hasn't been good on the road for the past year-and-a-half. That's a large reason why Baltimore's record since the beginning of the 2013 season is only 14-12. The Steelers' record in the same span is 15-12.

The 4-6 Saints sit atop the NFC South, ahead of the dreadful 4-7 Atlanta Falcons, who lost at home to Cleveland yesterday, despite Brian Hoyer's three interceptions. The Steelers also got no help yesterday from the Houston Texans, who lost at home to Cincinnati.

Way down in New Orleans ("the prettiest girls I've ever seen"), the Saints' defense has been less than imposing this year. While their defense, "led" by coordinator Rob Ryan, has some notable names (cornerback Keenan Lewis, safety Jairus Byrd, linebacker Junior Gallette, defensive end Cameron Jordan, safety Kenny Vaccaro) the unit as a whole has been mostly awful.

Last week, the Saints allowed Andy Dalton and the Bengals to convert six first downs on third-and-8 or longer. According to ESPN Stats and Information, the Saints' defense has yielded 23 such plays, which is more first downs than any team in the NFL this year on plays of third-and-8 or fourth-and-8 or longer. The Ravens would be crazy not to probe the New Orleans secondary early and often.

On the flip side of the ball, New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees is great, and the Saints' offense hs been very good at converting third downs. As's Jamison Hensley notes, "The Saints have converted a league-best 51.6 percent of their third downs and lead the NFL in fewest three-and-outs with 13."

For Steeler Nation, then, there is reasonable hope the Saints will defeat the Ravens tonight. In any case, the Steelers should watch tonight's Baltimore-New Orleans game very closely. The Steelers host the Saints next Sunday at Heinz Field.

No comments: