LOCATION: Mercedes-Benz Superdome (New Orleans, LA)
BETTING LINE: NO (-1.5)
Von Miller is the highest paid defensive player in the NFL for a reason. Last years Super Bowl MVP must step up and revive the Broncos front seven after an atrocious performance against their division rival, Oakland. Von Miller will have to slow down the duo of runningbacks from the Saints as well as future hall of famer Drew Brees. With a beat up secondary, the Broncos’ defense must rely on their front seven to get pressure in the backfield early and often. Von Miller is the guy to help turn the Broncos’ season back into the right direction.
Mark Ingram / Tim Hightower
Running Backs – #22 / #34
The Saints’ running back core has found life the last three weeks, contributing to a balanced offensive attack for New Orleans. Both backs shredded a weak 49ers defense a week ago, combining for 245 yards on the ground, and will have to stay consistent to help the Saints control the time of possession. Denver just got bullied by the Raiders run game, leading to another loss in the division for the Broncos, and must be exploited if the Saints’ hope to climb above .500 for the first time in three years. Look for a split backfield again from New Orleans and for Sean Payton to get their backs the ball early.
Denver Broncos Key Positions
With C.J. Anderson injured, Devontae Booker has struggled as a lead back and it showed against the Raiders last Sunday. Trevor Siemian is a more than comparable quarterback for the Broncos but without a run game, he has struggled to drive their offense down the field. Denver must like their matchup against a weak New Orleans’ defense and will have to establish the run to get their offense back on the right path.
The lack of a rush has been a problem in the absence of Pro Bowler Demarcus Ware. Although Von Miller is an animal, he cannot do it all. The Broncos must find a comparable pass rush opposite of Miller and get after Brees. With a lacking secondary the Broncos will have to get after Brees to prevent him from doing what he does best, finding holes in a defense.
The best way to help a struggling offense is to control field position and not leave drives without points. It is no secret that the Saints have a weak defense and if they can control field position through special teams they will have a much better shot at putting points on the scoreboard. Kicker Brandon McManus must be on his game and put it through the uprights to instill confidence back into Siemian’s head.
GAME PREVIEW ANALYSIS
The Denver Broncos travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints for a one o’ clock kickoff this Sunday. For both teams this is a must win situation as they try to keep pace in the division.
The Saints come into the game winning three of their last four and are riding a hot streak with their young lineup. This is their first true test of legitimacy since starting their winning streak and must play like veterans to leave the Superdome with a victory. Drew Brees will be relied on heavily to make plays for the Saints’ offense but they cannot abandon the run game, as they have had success in past weeks running the ball.
On the defensive side of the ball look for coordinator Dennis Allen to try and get pressure on Trevor Siemian as he has struggled to produce positive yards for the Broncos in recent weeks. The emergence of Sheldon Rankins on the defensive line is something to keep an eye on in this matchup. Delvin Breaux is another matchup to watch as he was only thrown at twice last week against the 49ers. The Saints’ have the majority of their defense healthy again and this week will be a true test to see how much the Saints have truly grown since week one.
On the opposite sideline, the Broncos have struggled to produce points throughout the season and teams have exploited an injured defense, giving the Broncos three losses in the last five weeks. For Trevor Siemian this is a gut check game, as he must prove he is the answer behind center this season. The Broncos have too many playmakers on the offensive side of the ball to struggle moving the ball against the 28th ranked defense in the NFL.
The Broncos’ defense has been hindered by injury recently but still features plenty of playmakers to stop Drew Brees and company. After an embarrassing performance against the Raiders last Sunday night, look for the intensity to be picked up in the Superdome. Von Miller must get his defense on track, regardless of injury, if they hope to battle back into the AFC West race this season.
New Orleans Saints Key Positions
The Saints’ offensive line has shown vast improvement in recent weeks and it has translated into the win column. The Broncos defensive line has been a problem for teams in the past, regardless of recent opponents. This is a must win for the Saints’ and it will start in the trenches.
As mentioned above, the Saints’ have found life in their backfield, as they have had a 100-yard rusher in their past two outings. When the Saints’ control the time of possession, their defense has come to life and made plays when it matters most. Look for Sean Payton to try and get his backs involved early to set up the play action pass for Drew Brees.
New Orleans has forced in their last two games, mostly because of their outside linebacker Nate Stupar. He has played lights out since being thrown into a starting role and will be counted on again against Denver. With the emergence of Nate Stupar and Craig Robertson, the Saints finally have stability in their linebacking core and will hope to continue their success on Sunday.