The Denver Broncos (3-3) are coming off of a bye, which may have come at a bad time considering that they scored 35 straight points in the second half to beat San Diego 35-24 on the road last game. The Saints have won two straight games after an 0-4 start and their offense is as potent as ever.
Denver is a -6 favorite when the teams meet on Sunday Night Football this week with the total set at 55½.
1. Why New Orleans will cover the spread: The Saints will cover this spread and even have a good chance to win outright is Drew Brees is, well, Drew Brees. He certainly cannot be blamed for the Saints’ slow start as he is averaging 335.2 passing yards per game and has 18 touchdown passes despite defenses knowing that he will throw on almost every down with New Orleans playing from behind so much of the time this year.
That leads us to a second key and that is the Saints getting the lead early for a change so that they can establish some semblance of a running game. It is easy to forget that the Saints actually finished seventh in the NFL in rushing offense last season while averaging an impressive 4.8 yards per carry, and they have basically the same corps of running backs this year. Yet they rank dead last in the NFL in rushing, which is a by-product of trailing in every game, even in the two wins.
2. Why Denver will cover the spread: The Broncos will cover the spread if their defense can actually get to Brees and get some sacks. Denver is ranked 10th in the NFL in passing defense and it has 18 sacks in six games, but the Broncos have not faced anyone close to Brees’s caliber unless you are ready to now consider Matt Ryan as an upper echelon quarterback. One key that both teams have in common is that both want to get an early lead, and if the Broncos accomplish that, they appear better suited to protect it based on how these running games have performed this season, as although ranking 23rd in the NFL in rushing is not saying much, Willis McGahee may be the best pure running back on either team.
3. Total Talk: The problem we see for both teams here is that each may have a tough time getting more than a one possession lead, which would be great for the entertainment value of this contest as Brees and Peyton Manning could engage in a personal battle of “Can you top this?” For that very reason, we feel that the Saints scream value here not only ATS but also on the money line in a toss-up type game that may be decided late, and with so many balls in the air, the ‘over’ seems like the logical play.
4. Betting Trends for SAINTS/BRONCOS: The Broncos have struggled as decided favorites in recent years, going an atrocious 3-16 ATS the last 19 times they were favored by 3½ points or more. Meanwhile, Drew Brees is always a dangerous underdog going 31-20 ATS in that role including 1-0 this season in a 28-27 loss at Green Bay.
New Orleans 34 – Denver 28