Drew Brees and Peyton Manning are statistically two of the best to ever play quarterback, and their respect around the league enforces that fact.
Each will be leading their respective teams in a contest that will set the tone for the remainder of the year.
The Broncos are coming off a bye week, but the momentum they gained in a dramatic comeback the week before against the Chargers could carry over and lift Denver.
New Orleans also won in dramatic fashion versus Tampa Bay last Sunday. To extend their winning streak and gain confidence would provide a much needed boost to an embattled franchise.
Distractions aside: Saints will compete with Broncos
Turmoil isn't unusual to the Saints. They endured Hurricane Katrina and its devastating effects on the city. More recently they dealt with an NFL scandal of historic proportions in 'Bountygate'.
Success is usually the norm, but not necessarily early in this 2012 season.
"The only important stat is wins and losses. I know their winning streak is longer than ours right now because they've won two in a row," head coach John Fox said. "We don't look at stats, we don't look at records, we watch the tape."
The Saints were winless through their first four games, only before snapping off two victories in a row against San Diego and Tampa Bay. They have endured a tough stretch. Suffice is to say, it's just one of many for this squad that has been continually berated with controversy since March.
The Saints set aside off the field issues to tend to what needs to happen on Sundays.
"Obviously they have had some bumps with the coach being out and some of their players with all the debacles in the offseason, but they're still the New Orleans Saints," wide receiver Eric Decker said. "So we have to make sure that we're ready."
People forget New Orleans is only three years removed from being Super Bowl Champions. They have won 11-or-more games in the last three seasons.
"I think for the reasons that are obvious, it's a game against a really good team, a team that's hot, a team that their record and statistics and all those are very misleading," quarterback Peyton Manning said. "It's a big-time football team that knows how to win."
On paper, Broncos-Saints may be a mundane matchup. On the football field, away from statistics and complications, it will be so much more.
A trend continues as Broncos face Brees
Face Ben Roethlisberger, Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Tom Brady, Carson Palmer and Philip Rivers in the first six weeks, they said. They said it would be fun.
And here the Broncos go again, this time against Drew Brees.
"It really is crazy," safety Jim Leonhard said. "We've played some great quarterbacks up to this point and I think we're holding our own. We have to make more plays, just like we did last week."
Brees recently broke Johnny Unitas' record for most consecutive games with a touchdown pass.
When you pass Unitas in the record books you know two things: One, they've been around quite a while to rack up those type of numbers, and two, they are really good at what they do.
"It's pretty well documented," Peyton Manning said, giving high praise to his opposite number. "Anytime you have some of these records, a season record is one thing, but any records that span over three or four years tells you what a consistent player he's been since he's gotten there."
Brees is 7th in passing touchdowns all-time (299), 3rd in completion percentage (65.7) and tenth in passing yards (42,839).
"He's an all-time great in my eyes," safety Rahim Moore said. "When you've done what he's done and won a Super Bowl in this league, sometimes you can't even explain it."
Exploiting New Orleans means offense explosion for Denver
Peyton Manning may want to call 'all-time-quarterback' after Sunday night's game against New Orleans.
The Saints defense is bad, really bad. They are on pace to give up the most yards in NFL history. Through just six contests, New Orleans has given up over 465 yards and over 30 points per game.
"Numbers are numbers, obviously everyone's going to look at it," said wide receiver Eric Decker who is knowingly aware of what is clairvoyant to so many. "You still have to play the game."
If all goes to plan, Denver's offense will be able to move the ball up and down the field. Manning should be able to connect with his favorite targets, to Brandon Stokley, Thomas and Decker with relative ease. Spreading the ball around and scoring points, that's always the game-plan though.
"For us, it's, 'Score every time we get the ball.' That's our mentality going into every game," Stokley recounted. "That doesn't change with who you're playing."
The Broncos isn't prolific, but it is about average. They average 384 yards per game and 28 points, but a concise Manning keeps those maligned expectations in check.
"People are talking about their defense but all I see is what I see on tape," Manning said.
Denver might be able to put up points at will against the NFL's worst defense. Then again, they might have to with a tremendous Saints offense to combat.
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