Two future Hall of Fame QB’s tangle on Sunday night in week eight, as the Saints travel to Denver to take on the AFC West leading Broncos in what could turn into an offensive showcase.
The QB battle – Drew Brees for the Saints vs Peyton Manning for the Broncos, two QB’s that fared off in the Super Bowl a few years back when the Saints beat the Colts.
“Both guys are first-ballot Hall of Famers,” said Denver cornerback Tracy Porter.
The Broncos (3-3) began 1-2 as Manning compiled an 85.6 passer rating with five touchdowns and three interceptions, but Manning has since thrown for at least 300 yards and three touchdowns while completing more than 70 percent of his passes in each of Denver’s last three games, becoming the first NFL player to accomplish that feat.
They are coming off the bye, and the week before overcame a 24-0 deficit to beat the Chargers on the road 35-24, showing their firepower and also showing with a QB like Manning, you can never count them out.
“He is a football genius,” said Saints interim coach Joe Vitt, who returned this week from a suspension for his role in the bounty scandal. “He understands defenses, alignments and pre-snap reads. When you talk about the skill level of quarterbacks there needs to be three characteristics and he has all three.
Manning benefited from the Denver defense forcing six turnovers against the Chargers, something the Saints’ struggling unit could sure use after forcing just eight in its first six games.
Under first-year defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo, New Orleans (2-4) has surrendered 2,793 yards, the most in NFL history through six contests since at least 1950. The 30.3 points per game allowed by the Saints are the league’s fourth-most.
“I’m certainly not a miracle worker,” Vitt said. “I’m humble to be back here. I met with (Spagnuolo on Monday) morning, and we know there are things we can do better from a coaching standpoint and from a players’ standpoint and from a schematic standpoint.”
Brees may have to outplay Manning and the Broncos D, and make sure that he doesn’t give his counterpart short fields with turnovers, which has been an issue in this season for the Saints.
New Orleans fell behind the Bucs last week 14-0, but rallied for a 35-28 win as they continue to try to put an 0-4 start in a season that has gone more wrong than right behind them.
The Saints offense has been clicking, with New Orleans totaling 66 points in its back-to-back wins. Brees has thrown for a combined eight touchdowns in those games, extending his NFL record for consecutive games with at least one TD pass to 49.
Denver may need a better start to keep up with the high-powered Saints. The Broncos have generated just 42 first-half points this season, instead largely relying on a plus-73 scoring differential in the fourth quarter – the second-highest in NFL history for a team’s first six games.
“We’re studying it and trying hard to get off to a better start,” Manning said. “This would be a great week to do it. This is not a team you want to fall behind because they have potential to keep scoring, keep extending that lead.”
This is going to be a fun game to watch, but at home, I think Manning outplays Brees, and the Denver D does enough to pull off a close win to improve to 4-3 on the year.
Denver 34 New Orleans 29