Saints Ground Game Key Against Broncos

Last week, the New Orleans Saints’ game against the San Francisco 49ers, might have been the perfect time for running back Mark Ingram to get out of head coach Sean Payton’s dog house. Ingram got benched after fumbling in back-to-back games.

He fumbled against the Kansas City Chiefs and the Seattle Seahawks, and his fumble against the Seahawks got him benched for the rest of the game. The sit-down must have gotten through to him, as http://www.espn.com/blog/new-orleans-saints/post/_/id/24236/mark-ingram-gets-game-ball-but-still-in-timeshare-with-tim-hightower">he ran for 158 yards on 15 carries with a touchdown in the 49ers game.

On the longest run of his NFL career, Ingram ran 75 yards to paydirt to earn a game ball for his play. He also added another touchdown off a pass from quarterback Drew Brees.

Getting Ingram back on track is important this week for New Orleans, as the Saints host defending Super Bowl champions the Denver Broncos.

On Sunday Night Football, the Oakland Raiders http://www.espn.com/blog/denver-broncos/post/_/id/23398/raiders-showed-broncos-struggles-in-run-defense-no-small-matter">rushed for 218 yards against Denver for a 30-20 win. The week before, San Diego found room to run against the Broncos, http://www.espn.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=400874622">as they ran for 123 yards as a team.

New Orleans http://www.espn.com/nfl/boxscore?gameId=400874597">rushed for 248 yards as a team against the 49ers, with running back Tim Hightower running for 87 yards on 23 carries. The rushing attack made it easy for the Saints to be balanced on offense. Brees threw for 323 yards and three touchdowns.

Oakland was able to control the clock by http://www.espn.com/nfl/matchup?gameId=400874592">leading the time of possession 40:28 to 18:32. New Orleans won the time of possession http://www.espn.com/nfl/matchup?gameId=400874597">against San Francisco 38:53 to 21:07.

Ingram and Hightower need to combine for a big game against Denver. The Broncos are the best defense in the NFL against the pass this season.

Denver only http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/passing/sort/netPassingYardsPerGame/position/defense">allows 5.7 yards per pass, a passer rating of 67.2 and just 183 passing yards per game, and has 28 sacks this season. Against the run, the http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/sort/rushingYardsPerGame/position/defense">Broncos are 29th in the league, as the defense allows 128.6 yards per game.

New Orleans has the 16th best rushing attack in the NFL http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/sort/rushingYardsPerGame">at 108.1 yards per game. The Saints are the http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/passing/sort/netPassingYardsPerGame">best passing offense in the league at 326 yards per game.

The Broncos have the http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/passing/sort/netPassingYardsPerGame">25th best passing offense at 227 yards per game and the http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/sort/rushingYardsPerGame">23rd best rushing attack at 96.8 yards per game. New Orleans is last in the league, as it allows http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/passing/sort/netPassingYardsPerGame/position/defense">300 passing yards per game, but is http://www.espn.com/nfl/statistics/team/_/stat/rushing/sort/rushingYardsPerGame/position/defense">19th against the run, allowing 108.5 yards per game.

If the Saints can run the ball, it makes the Broncos’ pass rushers have to work harder during the game. New Orleans can wear out those pass rushers with the physical play of a rushing attack.

Denver would like teams to pass against them so they can unleash their pass rush, but last season was better at stopping the run. In the Super Bowl against the Carolina Panthers, the Broncos stuffed the Panthers’ rushing attack, making Carolina one-dimensional.

This season, Denver isn’t stopping the run, as well, and it opens the door for teams wear the defense down and negate some of the pass rush. New Orleans must run the ball so it can open up the passing game for Brees.

The New Orleans defense is a work in progress, with players returning from injury. It will be helpful if the team can stop the Broncos’ run game and get pressure on Denver quarterback Trevor Siemian.

The Saints get the added bonus of playing this game at home. That means the Superdome should be filled with noise to make it hard on the Denver offense.

If New Orleans is going to prove it is a playoff team, getting a win in this game would go a long way to prove this isn’t a 7-9 team.


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