New Orleans Saints at Denver Broncos (-6, 54.5)
There will be more footballs than oxygen in the thin air of Denver when the Broncos host the New Orleans Saints on Sunday night. New Orleans, led by quarterback Drew Brees, has the No. 1 passing offense in the NFL, while Denver and Peyton Manning are fourth. The Saints have won two straight after an 0-4 start and welcome back interim coach Joe Vitt, who finished serving a suspension for his role in Bountygate. The Broncos enjoyed their bye week following a 35-24 comeback victory at San Diego on Oct. 15 and will try to take advantage of the Saints' NFL-worst defense which has allowed 2,793 yards through six games, the most in NFL history since at least 1950.
TV: 8:20 p.m. ET, NBC.
LINE: Broncos -6, O/U 54.5
WEATHER: Forecasts are calling for temperatures in the mid-40s under partly cloudy skies. Winds will be light out of the west.
ABOUT THE SAINTS (2-4): Brees threw four touchdown passes in New Orleans' 35-28 victory at Tampa Bay last week. The Saints are trying to become the second team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970 to reach the playoffs after starting 0-4, but they'll have to become more balanced on offense. New Orleans is last in the league at 76.2 rushing yards per game. Remarkably, though, its one-dimensional attack hasn't led to Brees getting pummeled by opposing defenses. He has been sacked 12 times, tied for the eighth-lowest total in the NFL. Linebacker Jonathan Vilma, who is appealing his Bountygate suspension, played his first game last week after recovering from a knee injury and broke up a pass and had a knockdown.
ABOUT THE BRONCOS (3-3): Manning, who has 14 touchdowns and four interceptions - three in the first quarter against Atlanta - has a passer rating of 105.0, well above his 95.2 career number. While Manning is the key to Denver making the playoffs, the secondary will likely determine whether the Broncos win Sunday. While 11-time Pro Bowl cornerback Champ Bailey continues to play at the highest level, he will need plenty of help to slow down Brees and Co. Cornerback Tracy Porter, though, missed the San Diego game after experiencing light-headedness and a rapid heartbeat - symptoms he also felt prior to a seizure in August. Porter, who played four seasons with New Orleans (2008-11), has yet to receive clearance to play Sunday.
* Over is 5-0 in Saints’ last five road games.
* Over is 10-1 in Saints’ last 11 games overall.
* Broncos are 0-5 ATS in their last five Week 8 games.
* Saints are 9-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a win.
* Over is 4-1 in Broncos’ last five games following a win.
1. Brees and Manning last met in Super Bowl XLIV on Feb. 7, 2010, when New Orleans defeated Indianapolis 31-17.
2. Aaron Kromer, who served as Saints interim coach with Vitt gone and suspended coach Sean Peyton sitting out the season, returns to his role as offensive line coach.
3. Denver leads the series 7-2 and has won three straight, including a 34-32 victory in the last meeting in 2008 when Brees was 39-of-48 for 421 yards and a touchdown.