2012 NFL Picks and Odds: New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos Predictions – Week 8 Sunday Night Football Picks

2012 Week 8 NFL Picks: New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos Vegas Odds and Predictions – Free NFL Picks 10/28/2012: Two of the best quarterbacks in the game and in league history will square off Sunday night when Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos (3-3) host Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints (2-4). Both QBs have dealt with their share of adversity with Brees dealing with the loss of his head coach to a bounty scandal and Manning coming back from multiple neck surgeries that cost him all of last season. Despite the hurdles, Brees enters Sunday’s matchup third in the NFL in passing yards and second in touchdowns, while Manning ranks second in quarterback rating and fourth in touchdown passes. Add it up, and a shootout between two of the best signal callers in the business could be on tap. Playing at home, the Broncos are six-point favorites.

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Offensively, the game is a battle between two of the NFL’s best passing attacks. Denver currently owns the fourth-best passing offense in the league, while New Orleans leads the NFL in passing yards per game. Manning and Brees have plenty of firepower to work with, and while Demaryius Thomas, Eric Decker and Brandon Stokley are on the receiving end of most passes in Denver, Marques Colston, Lance Moore, Darren Sproles and Jimmy Graham are New Orleans’ top targets. Neither side has a great running game to fall back one, but the Saints actually rank last in rushing offense, managing just 76.2 yards per game. Despite being one-dimensional, both teams rank in the top seven in terms of points scored.

While both teams can light up the scoreboard on offense, there is a drastic difference between the two on the defensive side of the ball. Denver ranks 10-th against the pass and 18th against the run, and the Broncos are allowing 23.0 points per game. Those numbers aren’t spectacular, but they shine when compared to a New Orleans’ defense that ranks 30th against the pass and 31st against the run and allows opponents to score 30.3 points per game on average. The Saints have allowed at least 24 points in all six games this season.

The Saints Win If:

New Orleans may be 2-4, but it isn’t because Brees and the offense aren’t doing their job. The Saints can score a lot of points against any defense in the league, and they are going to need another 30-plus point effort to knock off the Broncos. More importantly, the Saints’ defense needs to take advantage of the slow starts that are becoming routine for Manning. Whether it is a side effect of his surgery or just age setting in, Manning has needed a few series to get warmed up. If the New Orleans defense can get a few stops or even a few turnovers early, Brees and the offense could build a lead and then hang on for the win.

The Broncos Win If:

The Saints’ defense has been beyond atrocious this season. New Orleans can’t tackle, can’t rush the pass and can’t cover receivers down the field. Basically, the Saints can’t stop anyone from scoring, let alone a quarterback like Manning. As long as the Broncos don’t stop themselves on offense, they are going to pile up a ton of points. If Manning and company don’t turn the ball over, they are going to build a lead and allow the Denver pass rush led by Von Miller and Elvis Dumervil to bring the heat on Brees.

Bottom Line:

In 2010, Brees and Manning hooked up in one of the more memorable Super Bowls. Brees and the Saints ultimately won that meeting, but the opportunistic defense that intercepted and pressured Manning is no longer around. Instead, Brees has been put in a situation where he has to outscore every single opponent, and the Saints have yet to win a game when they score less than 30 points. The problem New Orleans is going to have Sunday night is that Manning and the Broncos have an offense that is nearly as potent, along with a much better defense that actually holds its own against opposing QBs. Not to mention the fact that the struggling offenses of Carolina and Kansas City have both outscored New Orleans already this year, and the surging Denver offense will do the same.

Prediction: Denver Broncos (-6) Cover the Spread

New Orleans Saints @ Denver Broncos
Line: Denver -6
Total: Over/Under 55.5
Time: 8:30 PM EST on NBC

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