ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- The Broncos made it clear Wednesday at Dove Valley that even after a 2-4 start, the Saints are still the same team that has made three consecutive playoff appearances.
New Orleans started the season with four consecutive losses, giving up at least 27 points in each of those defeats.
But Head Coach John Fox said those numbers can be misleading. And the Saints have since bounced back with two consecutive victories.
"I don't look at stats," Fox said. "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. They're very capable. We don't look at stats, we don't look at records, we watch the tape. They've beat two good football teams back-to-back and they're a very worthy opponent that was a playoff team a year ago."
In their past two games, the Saints have beaten the Chargers and Buccaneers despite surrendering 24 points to San Diego and 28 to Tampa Bay. With a defense currently giving up 465.5 yards of total offense per game, which is the worst mark in the NFL by more than 40 yards, New Orleans seemingly presents a favorable matchup for a Broncos team fresh off a 35-point second half against the Chargers.
But quarterback Peyton Manning isn't buying into stats, either.
"People are talking about their defense but all I see is what I see on tape," Manning said. "I see guys flying around making plays. I see (New Orleans S Malcolm) Jenkins running their receiver down at the 1(-yard line), probably the biggest play of that game against Tampa (Bay), so I think both sides of the ball, there are some good matchups. That's why I think it'll be a good game."
The Saints are playing this season without Head Coach Sean Payton. But despite a 2-4 start, New Orleans remains a talented squad that has enjoyed three straight regular seasons with at least 11 wins.
"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. "They've got some playmakers and they're going to come out and give us their best effort. So we have to make sure that we're ready."
The biggest key to the Saints' success in recent years has been stellar play from quarterback Drew Brees, who is third in the NFL with 2,097 passing yards and second in the league with 18 passing touchdowns. Brees' ability to spread the ball to a number of pass catchers and move the team down the field makes facing New Orleans a difficult task, regardless of their record.
"He's consistent," safety Rahim Moore said. "He makes everybody around him better. He's an all-time great in my eyes. A lot of people don't give him enough credit, I believe. But when you've done what he's done and won a Super Bowl in this league, sometimes you can't even explain it. With the Saints, you can't judge them by their record, you have to watch the film. When you look at Drew Brees, their offense, they can do it all."
Facing an offense as potent as the Saints' means the Broncos will have to be on top of their game not only defensively, but on offense as well.
"I can't say what to expect," Decker said. "I think our focus as an offense is to get to a faster start. We know they can score points and we have to be able to set the tempo and be more successful in the first half, eliminate turnovers and drops and score some points. That's our main focus."
Though the Broncos have a superior record and rank higher than New Orleans in several key statistical categories, all that will go out the window when Sunday's game kicks off.
"Numbers are numbers, obviously everyone's going to look at it," Decker said. "You still have to play the game. They're a great football team, they have won a lot of games here in this recent past. They know what it takes so obviously we have to really take care of ourselves. That's setting the tempo, starting faster offensively. Defense, finding a gameplan to stop their offense and just working together as a collective unit and just being successful like we always say for that 60 minutes."