NFL: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers Preview

Peyton ManningIn the second week of the preseason, the Denver Broncos travel to the newly minted Levi’s Stadium to take on the San Francisco 49ers (4pm EST, Sunday).

The NFL and the Denver Broncos have done something that most teams wouldn’t even think of doing when scheduling preseason games and that is picking tough opponents, both of which will challenge for top honors in the NFC this year. Oh and did I mention that Denver is scheduled to play both of these teams during the first half of the NFL season?

Whether they are trying to challenge themselves or the NFL is trying to challenge them or they are just football-challenged, scheduling preseason games against two regular season opponents is an interesting  tactic.

First off with regards to the Seattle Seahawks, who Denver defeated in week one of the preseason, there was a lot on the line. The Broncos needed that win to regain some of the confidence lost when they suffered that embarrassing Super Bowl defeat last February.

That part makes sense. It makes sense that Denver would want to get that out of the way but why in the preseason when they will be seeing the Seahawks in just the third week of the regular season? Clearly neither team is going to be with the full complement of their offense and clearly neither team is going to show off anything from their playbooks. Both these teams play to win but the preseason? No one really cares about wins or losses there.

The same goes for Denver’s week two opponent, the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers could have been the Broncos’ competitor in the 2013-14 Super Bowl. If not for two late fourth quarter scores by the opponent and Seattle’s shutdown defense, San Fran would have been.

That and the fact that these two rivals will meet again in week seven of the NFL season means this upcoming preseason game, like the first, really isn’t going to give either team much. Expect two closely guarded teams to run basic plays. Expect the 38-year old Peyton Manning (pictured) to at most play a few series. Expect to learn nothing new about either of these teams and their strategy for this year.

D for Defensive Line, well Actually D-

For the 49ers, week one of the NFL preseason did not go as hoped. The team traveled to Baltimore and took a beating at the hands of the Ravens, 23-3. It was not what fans and the coaching staff wanted to see.

At times last year what plagued the Niners was an inability to score in key moments. Some of this came as a result of a banged up receiving corps and a sophomore-esque slump to QB Colin Kaepernick. What San Francisco did have however was a top notch defense that finished the season top-8 in both passing and run defense. It’s possible that script has flipped a bit if the preseason stats are to be believed.

First round pick Carlos Hyde did exceptionally well in his short NFL debut as he rushed for 39 yards on just five carries including a long of 19 yards. Kaepernick’s absence was notable as the 49ers failed to sustain any long scoring drives behind backups, Josh Johnson and McLeod Bethel-Thompson. WR Bruce Ellington was the bright spot of the passing game, accruing 35 yards on three receptions. But really, San Fran just couldn’t get it going.

Without much of its starters, this wasn’t so surprising. What was however was the defense, specifically the defensive line’s inability to stop Baltimore backup Tyrod Taylor from running and passing the ball with great success. The line failed to put pressure on Taylor and this allowed him to really have an open field for most of his plays. The second year backup finished with a line of 116 passing yards and 59 rushing yards. In total, the Baltimore offense put up 386 yards, not at all what the Niners wanted to allow.

Unfortunately for San Francisco, they are going to continue to be tested. Even if Manning only plays a few series, Denver’s offense, if as potent and prolific last year showed us they can be, will give this faulty line all kinds of trouble. If the Niners hope to make it to the Super Bowl and to beat the Seahawks, it all starts and ends with this defense and right now, it’s a lot like Swiss cheese with all of the holes.

Injury Report

There is some validity to the argument that the NFL preseason should be scaled back from four games to two. On the one hand, it would probably prevent more injuries but on the other, it shortens the timeline for those injuries to heal.

Due to the full contact nature, it is an inevitability of the sport. Guys will get injured no matter if the preseason was one week or four. It is managing these injuries that sets the good teams apart from the bad and this year both San Francisco and Denver are going to have their hands full at keeping players on the field.

Both teams have managed to litter the injury report after just one preseason game which isn’t exactly a good sign. For San Francisco they will be without defensive stars Justin Smith and Ray McDonald and for the Broncos, Danny Trevathan is a notable absence and will be missing more than just his game as the prognosis is six to eight weeks.

Both these teams are going to have to be creative and willing to use the rest of preseason and camp as an open audition. There are spots that need to be filled and Sunday’s game could be more of a tryout than anything else.

Broncos at San Francisco 49ers Betting Picks

  • We went over the storylines. We went over why this game really doesn’t have any significance and we checked in with the injury report. All that said, put your money on the Broncos to get the win. Both teams are exceptionally talented but right now, the 49ers seem poised to struggle. Their defense is banged up and Denver’s offense will take advantage. I don’t see this one going 23-3 like against the Ravens, but take the Broncos +3.5pts @ -115 on the spread with Bovada and Betonline.
  • I like the under 39.5 points here as well as preseason games between these two teams have not traditionally been high scoring, which can be backed with both the same betting companies.