NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger believes the Baltimore Ravens have
the best defense in the league
but knows the team's game against the New Orleans Saints Oct. 21 will be a legitimate test of that sentiment.
Baltimore's defense allowed a combined 12 points during the past two weeks, most recently shutting out Tennessee, 21-0, Oct. 14. The game prior, the Ravens lost in overtime to the Cleveland Browns despite holding them to a dozen points.
The Ravens have allowed the fewest points per game (12.8) in the NFL, establishing themselves as one of the league's elite defensive units. That stinginess, though, could break down in Week 7.
"The Tennessee Titans aren't a good offense and Cleveland is trying to figure out who they are, so they haven't really been tested recently," Baldinger said on
Glenn Clark Radio
Oct. 16. "This week will be a great test to see if the statement I made ... was true because the Saints are as good as there is in the league right now."
The matchup between the Ravens and Saints will be a battle between the league's best defense against the league's best offense. New Orleans leads the NFL in points per game (36.0) and is third in yards per game (424.0).
Baltimore will hope to pressure Saints quarterback Drew Brees, but it's unlikely the Ravens will be as successful as they were against the Titans. The Ravens set a franchise record with 11 sacks during that contest, coming one shy of tying the NFL single-game record.
Linebackers Za'Darius Smith and Patrick Onwuasor combined for five sacks during the shutout victory. Baldinger, a former NFL offensive lineman, said that productivity is a culmination of many aspects of the Baltimore defense.
"It's just the marriage between the rush, the scheme and the coverage," he said. "The coverage was air tight. It wasn't guys just winning one-on-ones. It was disguise. It was execution. It was taking their receivers away. It was the coverage that they played with. It was all of those kind of things."
Despite the defensive beatdown, the Ravens weren't able to force any turnovers and now have just six takeaways through six games. Baltimore has forced four fumbles this season but has recovered just one.
Had the Ravens fallen on the other three, Baltimore would be in the top half of the league in takeaways, so Baldinger isn't concerned with the lack of turnovers.
"Sometimes they come in bunches," Baldinger said. "Sometimes the ball just bounces funny and you don't get on it. You need to get your hands on footballs to get inceptions and a lot of them come on tips."
The Ravens might be far from leading the NFL in turnovers, but they do have the most sacks, which has allowed their offense to quickly get back on the field. At 4-2, the Baltimore is tied atop the AFC North in large part due to the success of its defense.
Even though the Ravens are up against a high-powered offense Oct. 21, Baldinger said a stout defense still has the ability to beat teams like the Saints.
"Good defense shut down the best offense in football last year," Baldinger said, referring to the Atlanta Falcons' 26-13 win against the Los Angeles Rams during last season's playoffs. "… I'm not going to buy into the argument that because the rules have changed so much that you can't play great defense. There's still ways to win game by playing great defense."
Photo Credit: Kenya Allen/PressBox
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