If you like offensive showdowns featuring premier quarterback that will post a ton of points on the scoreboard, then Sunday night’s match up between Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos versus Drew Brees and his New Orleans Saints is the ideal game for you. The Saints are coming off just the second victory of the season, 35-28 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers while the Broncos are coming off of their bye week; hopefully, for their sake, they have learned how to play 60 minutes of quality football during the extra practice time.
The Broncos have been two different teams during the first and second halves of their games this season, but if they have learned how to compete the way – which they have during the second half this year – then they could become one of the elite teams in the NFL. The Denver offense ranks sixth in yards gained per game (384.7 yards), fourth in passing yards gained per game (290.8 yards), 23rd in rushing yards (93.8 yards) and seventh in points scored per game (28.3 points) while their defense is 11th in yards allowed per game (330.5 yards), 10th in passing yards allowed per game (215.3 yards), 18th in rushing yards allowed per game (115.2 yards) and tied for 17th in points allowed per game (23 points).
Manning is having another MVP-type season, passing for 1,808 yards (7th in NFL), 14 touchdowns (tied for 4th), four interceptions and completing 67.8% of his attempts (tied for 4th), after missing an entire season and having many doubt that he could even make it back to an NFL field. Manning will look to get the ball to his favorite three receivers Demaryius Thomas (32 receptions for 542 yards and 3 TD), Eric Decker (34 receptions for 441 yards and 3 TD) and Brandon Stokley (19 receptions for 216 yards and 3 TD) against this extremely poor Saints defense every opportunity he can, in order to produce plenty of points. Willis McGahee (100 carries for 432 yards and 3 TD) will also be a huge part of the Broncos attack as well, with the New Orleans defense being equally poor against both the pass and run. For the Denver defense Von Miller (26 tackles, 6 sacks and forced fumble) and Elvis Dumervil (28 tackles, 5 sacks and 4 forced fumbles) will need to put as much pressure on Brees and the Saints offense as they can in attempts to slow down their high powered offensive attack.
New Orleans has one of the best offensive units in the entire league, ranking third in yards gained per game (411.3 yards), first in passing yards gained per game (335.2 yards), and tied for third in points scored per game (29.3 points); but, their defense is by far one of the worst in the league, ranking 29th in points allowed per game (30.3 points), 30th in passing yards allowed per game (304.5 yards), 31st in rushing yards allowed per game (161 yards) and 32nd in total yards allowed per game (465.5 yards).
Brees is having another spectacular season, passing for 2,097 yards (2nd in NFL), 18 touchdowns (2nd in NFL), seven interceptions and completing 60.8% of his attempts. Brees will look for his favorite targets Marques Colston (35 receptions for 517 yards and 5 TD), Lance Moore (28 receptions for 408 yards and 2 TD) and a returning Jimmy Graham (25 receptions for 252 yards and 3 TD); but because of the Broncos ferocious pass rush led by Miller and Dumervil, New Orleans will need to find some type of offensive balance. Finding that balance will mean that the Saints anemic rushing attack must show up for once this season, which means that Pierre Thomas (50 carries for 214 yards and a TD) must have his bet game of the year. Speaking of best game of the year, that is what this abysmal Saints defense must do in order to remain so what close in this one, otherwise Manning and the Broncos are going to score somewhere in the 50′s if they don’t.
I think that bye week did the Broncos a world of good, and now they will able to put together a complete game in both halves and the Saints will be their first victim. I expect Denver to win big, something along the lines of 45-24 sounds about right to me.