The New Orleans Saints face the tall task of handling the Baltimore Ravens' defense on Sunday following the bye week. 

Get a preview of today's game, including analysis of both teams, injury reports and expert predictions below.


FOUR DOWNS

Going deep

Was that Tre’Quan Smith’s breakout performance against Washington, the first step toward him making good on all the promise he showed during training camp this offseason? With Ted Ginn Jr. out with a knee injury, he’ll have every opportunity to keep building on it.

Bring it back

The split between Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara against Washington probably is not indicative of how things will be split moving forward. That was more likely the result of Kamara battling a little knee injury that needed some rest. He should be more involved this week.

Keep it close

New Orleans needs to remain organized on defense and make sure wide receiver John Brown doesn’t take the top off the defense. He has been one of the league’s best deep threats this season. The Saints have been much better at limiting explosive plays since the Atlanta game.

Protect your neck

The Saints sometimes go entire games where it doesn’t feel like the other team has a pass rush. It is going to take a whole lot for the New Orleans offensive line to make things look that way against a stout Baltimore front seven, especially with some key players missing.


FILM STUDY

New Orleans gets a taste of its own medicine this week

Taysom Hill’s emergence has been one of the more interesting developments in the NFL this season.

When you give one of the NFL’s greatest minds access to an unusual weapon, interesting and exciting things are bound to happen. What makes this week even more interesting is that New Orleans is going to get a taste of its own medicine.

Baltimore likes to use a set of plays that get rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson in ways that are not all that different from the ways New Orleans uses Hill. But the good news is that having Hill around has helped the defense prepare, and seeing how the Ravens Jackson has also sparked some new ideas.

“They have another quarterback that can get that same type of look,” Payton said. “There’s some quarterback design runs are really challenging. You’re always looking at ideas and so as you’re looking at their design runs you’re looking at how they apply possibly to yourself.

“That’s a package you have to be ready for. It’s unique in this game that both teams have a similar situation relative to the ability to put another player on the field that way.”

That means staying disciplined and not getting caught out of position or being unaware of what is going on. Jackson lines up all over the field, playing in the slot, at wide receiver as well as under center. Payton noted that it is unusual and different to see a player do all those things, but Hill has been some of those same things for the Saints.

Seeing how the Saints use Hill had the same effect on the Ravens coaching staff.

"I think both of those packages are almost exactly the same between Taysom and Lamar," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "It's kind of interesting to see what they'll come up with next as far as defending it, and seeing what our coaches think of as well. I think it's been two positive things for both teams."


WHO HAS THE EDGE?

When the Saints pass

Advantage: Saints

It looked like everything clicked for the Saints against Washington. If so, look out.

When the Saints run

Advantage: Saints

It’s hard to keep this rushing attack contained when everything is working. Can they do it behind a banged up line?

When the Ravens pass

Advantage: Ravens

We’re about one week away from believing in the secondary again. Until then, prove it.

When the Ravens run

Advantage: Saints

New Orleans’ run defense has been the strength of the defense so far this season.

Special teams

Advantage: Ravens

Baltimore might have the best specialists in the NFL.


NUMBERS TO KNOW

11: Sacks Baltimore had against Tennessee last week

26: Total sacks Baltimore has recorded this season

-2: Baltimore’s turnover differential

46.9: Third downs converted by Baltimore all season


INJURY REPORT

Saints

Out: DT Taylor Stallworth, OG Andrus Peat, OT Jermon Bushrod, DB J.T. Gray, OL Will Clapp, DE Mitchell Loewen, DE Trey Hendrickson

Being without Peat is a hit to the offense. Being with Peat and Warford would be a massive blow. In that instance, Josh LeRibeus and Cameron Tom would probably be the starting guards.

With Stallworth out, Tyeler Davison should get more snaps at defensive tackle.

Baltimore

Out: OG Alex Lewis, CB Marlon Humphrey, QB Robert Griffin III, WR Jordan Lasley, CB Anthony Averett, OL James Hurst, DT Zach Sieler


PREDICTIONS

Nick Underhill

The Saints are banging on the offensive line during a week when they’ll be facing one of the better pass rushes in the NFL. They should find a way to overcome, because they always seem to find a way to overcome on the offensive line.

Saints 27, Baltimore 20

Rod Walker

Saints play well after the bye. Ravens are only team Brees has never beat. This one, like most of the others coming up on the schedule, won't be easy. But Saints get it done late.

Saints 24, Ravens 23

Scott Rabalais

No one comes off a bye like New Orleans, which resumes its tour of Eastern seaboard foes (at N.Y. Giants, Washington at Baltimore) with the Ravens. The Saints are an NFL-best 7-2 after byes since 2009. They will be just good enough again as they begin a brutal stretch of their schedule.

Saints 24, Ravens 21

Follow Nick Underhill on Twitter, @nick_underhill.​