The Denver Broncos are now coming off their bye week having two weeks to prepare for the New Orleans Saints. The Broncos now hit a stretch in their schedule where they face only one team that has a winning record as of this weekend, that would be the Baltimore Ravens.
At the beginning of the season, one might have looked at the schedule and automatically assumed that this would have been a loss, but with recent injuries to CB Ladarius Webb, LB Ray Lewis and NT Haloti Ngata, the defense is struggling to give support to the Raven offense.
The Broncos now have the best opportunity to win the AFC West, and with the way the AFC is shaping up right now, a shot at a first round bye if they play well enough for the remainder of the season.
The Saints welcome back interim Head Coach Joe Vitt. Vitt had been serving a six game suspension for his part in “Bounty Gate”. He was able to coach the team through training camp and preseason until the suspension started when the regular season had begun. Joe Vitt has been welcomed back to the sidelines, and to the players, at the right time.
The offense hasn’t been missing a beat with QB Drew Brees at the helm, but the the defense has had their struggles. The Saints are letting others “go marching on them” with the ground game. Saints are second to last in the league in terms of yards allowed, giving up 161 yards per contest and 4.9 yards per carry. Vitt, technically holding the position of linebacker coordinator, will look to get the rush defense fix with his linebacker corps.
Manning will face the Saints for the first time since his loss in Super Bowl 44. Two prolific passing offenses will be in full display Sunday evening. The Broncos, led by QB Peyton Manning are fourth in the league at 291 yards through the air while the Saints counter with Brees with the most potent passing attack, first in the league 335. Both quarterbacks had their struggles early in the season but have started to find their game and have their offense clicking on all cylinders. Both teams are averaging better than 28 points per game. This game has more meaning for Manning as well as he comes to his hometown of New Orleans where his father Archie used to play as well. Manning will look to get two wins in the Superdome this season, this weekend against the Saints, and in February in Super Bowl 47.
With two passing attacks flying high, both secondaries will be put to the test. One player who is making a “return” is CB Tracy Porter. Porter was the corner responsible for the “pick six” on Manning in S.B. 44. This time he comes back as a Bronco. Porter did miss the last game for the Broncos in the Monday night game against the San Diego Chargers. Is reasoning was mysterious, but was listed as due to an illness. In recent days, it has been reported that he had been treated for “seizure like symptoms”. Although he feels good, doctors have not cleared him yet for a return to the field.
The Broncos secondary will definitely get a test for a second week in a row. Last week, DB Mike Adams was yanked in favor of Jim Leohnard after a few on field actions that resulted in penalties for the Broncos. In return, Leohnard did come up with an interception near the end of the second half. Porter being out, Chris Harris started and Tony Carter was inserted into the nickel-back position. The three DB’s combined for four INT‘s, including a Harris pick-six. The Broncos depth will be challenged if the Saints go four or five receivers.
This game has a serious potential to be a complete shootout, currently, the over/under for this game is 54 points. This game has all the makings to be a great game for Sunday night football.