Coming off a two game winning streak, the New Orleans Saints will travel to Sports Authority Stadium in the Mile High city to take on the Denver Broncos in hopes of continuing their winning ways (8.20pm ET, Sunday).
For the Saints, every game left on the schedule is a must-win if the team hopes to accomplish the slim chance they have of making the playoffs.
The Broncos too are in a competitive division and, tied atop the AFC West with the San Diego Chargers, are looking for wins to distance themselves from the competition.
New Season, Same Old Peyton Manning
Last year, the former Superbowl winning quarterback with three MVPs to his name, missed the first games in his 15-year career as a neck injury sidelined him for the length of the 2011 season.
The reason I say this is because if you hadn’t known that the 36-year-old Manning had needed three neck surgeries and had missed all of last season rehabbing what some considered to be a career ending injury, then you wouldn’t have guessed it by the way he is performing in 2012.
Because of the injury combined with his age, every throw the Broncos’ QB has made in the 2012 season has been heavily analyzed, critiqued and in some cases scrutinized. It is almost as if those in the media are just waiting for him to show signs of an aging and worn down body. It is almost as if people are waiting for him to make a mistake or to walk away from football.
Well even at 36, it seems that Manning hanging up his cleats is still a long ways away. In fact, if 2012 numbers are any indication of Manning’s future, then all signs are pointing toward at least three more high quality years. In short, Manning is back.
- Peyton Manning 2012 Stats: So far in six games played, Manning has completed 67.8 percent of his passes which ranks second best of his career. He has thrown for 1,808 yards and has 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions. His QBR is 79.4 and his QB rating is 105, also the second highest of his career.
Drew Brees Can Bring the Saints Back to Relevance
In what will probably go down as one of the smartest decisions in football, the New Orleans Saints decided to take a shot on the San Diego youngster with a bit of a damaged arm in Drew Brees.
Brees, while in his first five seasons with the Chargers, put up okay numbers but was never anything great. He had some problems with accuracy and threw nearly as many interceptions in the first three seasons as he did touchdowns.
Having Brees go to New Orleans then was the perfect fit. He was a mediocre quarterback with some injury history and the Saints were well, the laughing stock of the NFL.
Fast forward to 2009. Brees is in his fourth year with the Saints and is standing under the falling confetti as New Orleans celebrates its first ever Superbowl Championship.
Almost singlehandedly, Brees took the horrible Saints and turned them into champions. Not only that though, because in his time with the Saints and under the tutelage of Sean Peyton, Brees became one of the best quarterbacks in the league. He has led the team to numerous NFC South titles, winning records and playoff victories. Brees has been the constant of this team and without him, the Saints wouldn’t even have a chance to make the playoffs this year.
In 2011, Brees etched his name into the record books as he passed Dan Marino as the quarterback with the most throwing yards in a single season. In addition to his 5,476 yards, Brees threw 46 touchdown passes and just 14 interceptions. He was rewarded for this epic season with the Offensive Player of the Year Award. He has continued exactly where he left off in 2012, even if the record doesn’t show it.
Even though the Saints have struggled in 2012, none of that blame, let me emphasize this, none of that blame should go to Brees and the offense. He has done everything to keep the Saints in games and is putting together a season that could get him even more career accolades.
- Drew Brees 2012 Stats: In six games this season, Brees is third in the league with 2,097 yards, averaging 349.5 yards a game, meaning he is on pace to break his own record he set last year. He has 18 touchdowns which is second best in the league and is seventh among quarterbacks with his 96.1 passer rating.
Comparing the Passing and Running Games
Putting the quarterbacks aside, here is how the rest of the offense for these two teams matches up.
Wide Receiver Duos
- (NO) Marques Colston and Lance Moore: With the exception of the tight end Graham, Colston and Moore have been Brees’ favorite targets this year. Together they have caught 63 passes for 925 yards and seven touchdowns.
- (DEN) Eric Decker and Demaryius Thomas: Like Brees, Manning has been blessed with some great weapons in Denver. His two favorites are his number one and two wide receivers. On the season, Decker and Thomas have combined for 66 receptions, 963 yards and six touchdowns.
- (NO) Darren Sproles, Pierre Thomas and Mark Ingram: The Saints certainly have a favorable situation at running back. They have Sproles (22 attempts, 118 yards; 32 receptions, 267 yards, three touchdowns) who can catch passes and be effective in the running game, Thomas (50 attempts, 214 yards, one touchdown) their lead rusher and Ingram (44 attempts, 127 yards, one touchdown) their third down and short yardage back.
- (DEN) Willis McGahee, Lance Ball and Knowshon Moreno: McGahee has carried the load for Denver as a true number one running back. He has 100 attempts for 432 yards and three touchdowns. He is flanked by Ball (17 attempts, 45 yards) and Moreno (eight attempts, 15 yards, one touchdown).
New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos Picks Verdict
Both teams have offenses that can score and that can put up big numbers. They have talent at each position with a slight edge going to the Saints at tight end but an even split at all other positions. Both also have inconsistency and have struggled on defense. Denver is at home and are six point favorites. I expect it to be a close game so take New Orleans to beat the spread.
- Bet on New Orleans Saints + 6pts @ -110 with BetOnline Sportsbook. That firm takes all Americans. If you are not from the USA, bet with Bet365.