The Broncos face the New Orleans Saints this Sunday at Invesco. The Saints stand 1-1 thus far and they are the first NFC team that the Broncos will face this season. Denver is not as familiar with New Orleans as they are with the Raiders and Chargers so look for this game to be highly competitive. The last time these two teams met was in 2004, and the Broncos won 34-13. The last time the Saints came to the Mile High city was in 2001. Kim Kardashian better bring Reggie Bush an oxygen mask because this Saints team is used to playing 6 feet below sea level! My prediction: Broncos – 28, Saints – 17.
Broncos - They are the #1 ranked offense in the league right now, and they’ve got the momentum from last week’s crushing offensive performance against the Chargers. Jay Cutler leads the league in passing yards and Brandon Marshall leads the league in receptions despite his week 1 absence. It seems that the Broncos plan of attack is to get the passing game off to a strong start, so that the running game can chew time off the clock in the second half. This strategy almost cost the Broncos the game last week because they became too complacent at the line of scrimmage. The Broncos have been using the three receiver bunch formation that the Patriots perfected last year. With so many deep threats, the middle of the field has really opened up for the tight ends. Just when other teams figure out their pass defense, the Broncos utilize their offensive line to get big yards on the ground. That is why they are the most productive team on offense right now. If they can keep the same pace that they’ve had for the first two weeks, then conquering the Saints’ defense won’t be a problem.
Saints - This team has got a lot of athleticism on the offensive side. With Drew Brees at the reins, anything is possible. RB Reggie Bush has been fairly quiet during the first two weeks with 24 attempts for 79 yards and 0 TD’s. However, he does have 15 receptions for 175 yards and 1 TD. Don’t be surprised if he explodes against the Broncos’ defense. I think he’s due. WR Marques Colston is not playing due to injury. Jeremy Shockey makes his debut in Denver as a Saint. He is always a threat and once he catches the ball, and he can pound linebackers and safeties all the way back to the goal line. Don’t piss this guy off or he’s going to go off. Last week, the Broncos concentrated on Ladanian Tomlinson so much that they let Darren Sproles run them into the ground. Pierre Thomas and Deuce McAllister are capable of putting on a Sproles-like performance if the Broncos defense loses focus.
Broncos – This is the week for the defense to prove themselves. They are in the bottom tier of the league for pass and rush defense. It is absolutely essential to put pressure on Drew Brees or else he’s going to do whatever he wants. Elvis Dumervil is really the only one that has been putting any kind of pressure on the QBs so far. Defensive end Jarvis Moss (17th overall pick in 2007) returns to action this week after breaking his fibula six games into his rookie year. He recorded 14 tackles and 1 sack during his first year. Hopefully, that will put some more pressure on Brees. Getting guys to Reggie Bush is imperative. Bush can make people miss left and right, so having good backup to get this guy down will help the Broncos stop the run. The Broncos did get to experience some speed and quickness last week when they faced Sproles and LT, so they should be better prepared this week.
Saints - The Saints aren’t too far ahead of the Broncos defensively. They do have one guy, Jonathan Vilma, leading the league in tackles (17 solo, 25 total). Kevin Kaesviharn can also get to the ball in a hurry (12 solo, 14 total). Alvin McKinley who played with the Broncos in 2007 returns to Invesco. He’s got a lot of insight into the Broncos’ offense since he practiced with them, so look for him to be a help to his team. This defense can break down pretty quickly. The team was up by 9 points in the fourth quarter of last week’s game against the Redskins, and ended up losing it. Skins’ QB Jason Campbell torched them for 321-yards. Point being – Cutler has a good chance for another 300-yard passing day.
Broncos - Matt Prater remains perfect with a season long field goal of 52 yards. Brett Kern is doing a great job punting the ball averaging 48.2 yards per punt and landing 2 balls inside the 20. The thing that fans need to worry about is kickoff/punt coverage. Weaknesses have been exposed in that area with Johnnie Lee Higgins and Darren Sproles getting big run backs in the first two weeks. Now, they face Reggie Bush. Keeping him out of the endzone on special teams will be key.
Saints - Anytime Reggie Bush is on the field, he’s a threat. He returned a punt 55-yards for a TD last week. If the Broncos’ special teams doesn’t get it together, Bush or Thomas can get the Saints into great field position. Long time kicker Martin Gramatica has made both of his field goals (long – 49 yards) and all of his extra point attempts.
Broncos – Mike Shanahan and Jeremy Bates have done an excellent job with the play calling. Shanahan showed the league that he trusts his QB enough to make gutsy calls late in the game. He’s a hero in Denver right now, and I’m sure the mastermind has already got tricks up his sleeves for the Saints.
Saints - Sean Peyton absolutely turned the Saints around in 2006. When the city was down after Katrina, it was Peyton and the Saints that brought hope to the devastation. Peyton has a well-oiled machine in his offense and his aggressiveness as a coach can make this team into a playoff contender again in 08′.
Topics: Alvin Mckinley, Brandon Marshall, Brett Kern, Darren Sproles, Denver Broncos, Deuce Mcallister, Drew Brees, Elvis Dumervil, Jarvis Moss, Jason Campbell, Jay Cutler, Jeremy Bates, Jeremy Shockey, Johnnie Lee Higgins, Jonathan Vilma, Kevin Kaesviharn, Kim Kardashian, Ladanian Tomlinson, Marques Colston, Martin Gramatica, Matt Prater, Mike Shanhan, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Oakland Raiders, Pierre Thomas, Redskins, Reggie Bush, San Diego Chargers, Sean Peyton