Week 8: New Orleans Saints At Denver Broncos
- QuarterbackIn some ways, the Saints’ poor start has taken much of the pressure off of Drew Brees. Few NFL observers think the Saints have the opportunity to get back to the playoffs, so Brees is just going out and playing football. He is back in top form and is coming off a 377-yard, four-TD effort in the win over the Bucs in Week Seven.Peyton Manning is feeling more comfortable each week in the Denver offense. Their Week Six come-from-behind win on the road at San Diego has given the Broncos theknowledge that they can win in the most difficult circumstances. Manning does not have All-Pro receivers, but he knows they will make good plays for him if he gets the ball to them in good spots.
- OffenseThe Saints will attack with a variety of weapons. Marques Colston is probably the most dependable receiver of the bunch. He can use his body to screen off defenders and make big catches on third-down plays. Devery Henderson and Lance Moore are both solid receivers who can make big plays. Pierre Thomas and power back Marc Ingram can carry the load in the running game.The Broncos don’t have the kind of game-breaking receiving talent that the Saints do, but Manning has established a rapport with Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas. Decker is balanced, athletic runs good routes and will hold onto the ball. Thomas can break the long run. Veteran running back Willis McGahee is a pounding runner who can break tackles and make a solid contribution.
- DefenseThe Saints are struggling badly on defense this season and they have been quitevulnerable against the pass. They were eviscerated by Tampa Bay quarterbackJosh Freeman for 420 yards and three touchdowns. Free safety Malcolm Jenkins is a dependable player who hits hard and is coming off a nine-tackle effort.The Broncos are a quick defense that has surprising punch. They will punish opponents in defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio’s scheme. The best player on the defense is outside linebacker Von Miller (6.0 sacks) who plays with a high-revving motor and has a ton of nasty. Pass rushing defensive end ElvisDumervil has 5.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Saints are fairly happy with Garrett Hartley as their placekicker. He has made 7-of-9 field goal attempts this season. Punter Thomas Morstead averaged 51.2 yards on four punts against the Bucs. Darren Sproles can be an explosive return man.The Broncos get solid play from their special teams. Placekicker Matt Prater has made 7-of-7 field goal attempts, including two from beyond 50 yards. Britton Colquitt is a better than average punter who gets height on his kicks and knows how to kill the ball inside the 20.
No offense to former Bronco quarterback Tim Tebow, but Manning is teaching this team to win. Instead of doing it with fourth-quarter miracles and gimmicks, it’s the hard work and non-stop execution that has allowed the Broncos to impose their will. The Saints should be able to move the ball well in this game, but Manning will make the plays at the end of the game to allow the Broncos to come away with the win.