NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - I can't remember the last time I thought the Saints' running game might be the key to victory. But its emergence in the last two games has provided the Saints' number one offense with a balance it has long sought but has seldom been committed to and achieved.
The Saints ran the ball 42 times against San Francisco last week, running their record to 24 and 0 in the Sean Payton era when they attempt 35 or more rushes in a game. Unless the Broncos shore up their run defense, they could be in for more of the same.
The Raiders pounded the Broncos last Sunday night, out-rushing them 218 yards to 33 for Denver. That produced a whopping 41 to 19-minute time of possession disparity. Running the ball repetitiously and successfully minimizes your quarterback's exposure to the Broncos' top-ranked pass defense featuring Von Miller and company with their 28 sacks - second best in the NFL.
Meanwhile, the Saints have the top-ranked passing offense that hasn't allowed Drew Brees to be sacked over twice in a single game, while the Bronco pass rush averages more than three sacks a game defensively.
The Saints have always had a flair for the air. But ground and pound should figure prominently in their success - or lack of same - on Sunday.