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ENGLEWOOD, Colo. — After suffering the third loss of the season on Sunday, the Denver Broncos’ next opponent bears a striking resemblance to the team that just handed them their worst loss of the year.
Outside of their records the New Orleans Saints (4-4), the Broncos next opponent, look like a carbon copy of the Oakland Raiders (7-2), who beat the Broncos 30-20 on Sunday night. Each team has a prolific passing offense, a sub-par statistical defense and boasts a hostile environment for opposing teams.
Inside linebacker Todd Davis isn’t sure whether the similarity between the two opponents would work in the Broncos’ favor.
“It has its ups and downs. With [our defense], no matter what you see on film they are going to give us something different, so I think we just got to come in prepared, play our keys and face whatever New Orleans brings us,” he said.
As the Broncos try to enter their bye week on a positive note with a victory in New Orleans on Sunday, they will have to face, yet again, another potential MVP candidate quarterback.
Drew Brees, the Saints quarterback, has been nothing but spectacular this season throwing for a league-high 336 passing yards per game while ranking second in completion percentage (69.7) and passing touchdowns (21) and third in quarterback rating at 106.6, all better than the Raiders’ Derek Carr.
“He’s a great quarterback, future Hall of Famer. [Brees] has an amazing arm and has been doing it for so long, he’s just a great player,” Davis said.
A large part of Brees’ success is credited to his offensive line, which has only allowed him to be sacked 12 times, second in the league to Carr’s Raiders with 11. Cornerback Bradley Roby said it will be critical for the guys up front to get pressure on Brees this week to help out the Broncos’ secondary.
“It’s pivotal [to pressure elite quarterbacks] because you don’t want them to have all day to just sit there and go through there reads and go through their drops and have no type of distractions and no type of pressure,” he said. “You don’t want a guy like Tom Brady, Ben [Roethlisberger], Drew Brees, all those type of guys to have that pocket presence.”
While the Broncos will have their hands full with the Saints high-powered offense, just as they did against the Raiders, they will have another opportunity on the offensive side of the ball to attack a statistically poor defense. Entering Week 10 the Saints give up the third most points per game (29.8) and have the leagues worst passing defense, giving up exactly 300 yards per game.
However, just because the numbers point in the Broncos’ favor doesn’t mean it will translate in the game. Against the Raiders sub-par defense the Broncos put up a season-low 33 rushing yards and didn’t even accumulate 300 yards of offense. Running back Kapri Bibbs expects a tough matchup, but sees opportunities in their defense.
“We see a team that has a great front, good linebackers that like it when teams run the ball…on the back end, they had a couple of injuries, but they are getting a couple of guys back now,” he said. “I think what they are doing is a good thing, I think we can catch them in some of the stuff they are doing and we will be good.”
Another factor that could impede Denver’s ability to move the ball is the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The Superdome, as it is often referred as, has been rated as one of the toughest places to play for opposing teams. Coming off of a game in Oakland, where the crowd was extremely loud, the Broncos could be set with an even more difficult environment in New Orleans.
Not only does New Orleans have a loud crowd of around 76,000, very similar to Denver’s home field advantage, but also the stadium is enclosed, keeping all of the sound in and making it very difficult for opposing teams to communicate on the field. Davis, who played in the Superdome as a member of the Saints in 2014, said there is no other stadium like it.
“Because it’s in doors the sound echoes off of the walls and doesn’t really leave, so it’s definitely loud in there,” Davis explained. “New Orleans is a crazy city so the fans are crazy and they love it. It’s a fun environment to play in, it’s going to be fun going up against them in that environment.”
Over the past six seasons, including this year, the Saints are 29-15 at home, one of the best home records in that stretch. To prepare for this Gary Kubiak decided to practice indoors to simulate a dome environment.
“I think this place may be even louder and tougher place to play [compared to Oakland] so that’s why I had them inside. I’m going to work inside a few times this week so we can make everything a little more hostile,” he said.
On Sunday the Broncos will play a very similar team to the one that they just played. However, if they want a different outcome against the Saints their play on the field will have to be much better than it was against the Raiders.