for this game

Ravens visit Saints in key interconference game

Oct 24, 2006 - 7:48 PM Baltimore (4-2) at New Orleans (5-1) Sunday 1:00 pm EST

NEW ORLEANS (Ticker) -- Brian Billick is turning to himself in order to spark the Baltimore Ravens' offense.

In addition to his coaching duties, Billick also will serve as offensive coordinator Sunday when the Ravens visit the surprising New Orleans Saints in an interconference game.

Despite the Ravens being tied for first place with Cincinnati in the AFC North, Billick made the move to replace Jim Fassel as offensive coordinator heading into the team's bye week.

"To expand on our 4-2 start we need more offensive productivity," Billick said. "I just felt that I needed to step back into the offense on a day-to-day basis. From here on, I will do the play calling."

Even with the acquisition of two-time Pro Bowl quarterback Steve McNair, the Ravens rank just 22nd in offense. Last season with Kyle Boller at quarterback, Baltimore ranked 24th in offense.

McNair is expected to play after suffering a concussion in the first quarter of a 23-21 loss to Carolina two weeks ago.

Baltimore enters this contest with consecutive losses following a 4-0 start.

After winning just three games last season, the Saints already have doubled that total and have the second-best record in the NFC. They are a game in front of Atlanta in the NFC South.

Under first-year coach Sean Payton, the Saints have relied on the steady leadership of quarterback Drew Brees, the pass-catching abilities of rookie running back Reggie Bush, the running of Deuce McAllister, a surprising defense and a loud home-field advantage.

Brees is seventh in the NFL with a 92.8 rating, completing nearly 67 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and four interceptions.

Bush, the second overall pick in the draft and the 2005 Heisman Trophy winner, leads all rookies with 38 catches. His lone touchdown of the season came on a 65-yard punt return against Tampa Bay on October 8.

McAllister has returned from a torn ACL that forced him to miss the last 11 games in 2005 to rush for 444 yards and four touchdowns.

Expected to be among the worst defensive teams at the start of the season, the Saints rank a respectable 13th overall.

Back in the Superdome after playing their home games in San Antonio and on the campus of Louisiana State University last season, the Saints are 3-0 at home.

Two weeks ago, John Carney kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to lift the Saints to a 27-24 victory over Philadelphia.

New Orleans had its bye last week.

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