Aug 27, 2016; Denver, CO, USA; Denver Broncos outside linebacker Von Miller (58) reacts to his sack of Los Angeles Rams quarterback Sean Mannion (14) (not pictured) during the first quarter of a preseason game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
THE MATCH-UPS (STRENGTH VS. STRENGTH)
Without any doubt whatsoever, this is the most fearsome pass rush that New Orleans will face this season.
Von Miller may be the most disruptive player in football, and the thought of him — along with Demarcus Ware and Shane Ray on the fast-track surface of the Dome — is frightening, especially with Armstead likely missing the game.
Expect the Saints to put together some very specific pass protection packages involving the tight ends and running backs releasing later into pass patterns. They did this with the Raiders linebackers and Carolina’s front four, both of which New Orleans managed to neutralize.
This strategy will magnify the importance of an already tantalizing showdown between Denver’s secondary and the Saints “young gun” wide receivers.
November 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; New Orleans Saints wide receiver Michael Thomas (13) is congratulated by wide receiver Willie Snead (83) for scoring a touchdown against San Francisco 49ers free safety Eric Reid (35) during the fourth quarter at Levi
The loss of Talib for this game may be Denver’s undoing, particularly if their pass rush is neutralized and they continue their struggles against the run.
Chris Harris Jr. and Bradley Roby are as talented as they come, and Drew Brees MUST be aware of their play-making potential; yet each player has struggled with the exact skill set that Brandin Cooks will bring to this game.
Michael Thomas has shown that he can make plays against any coverage. If Wade Phillips elects to use his best two cover men primarily against Cooks and Thomas, then Willie Snead could reap the benefits.
Denver’s linebackers and safeties have also struggled in mid-range coverage, opening possibilities for Coby Fleener, Brandon Coleman and Josh Hill to make plays.