49ers vs Broncos Odds & Prediction for Sunday Night Football

49ers vs Broncos Odds & Prediction for Sunday Night Football article feature image

Matthew Stockman/Getty Images. Pictured: Russell Wilson.

  • The 49ers are favored on Sunday Night Football against the Broncos.
  • Jimmy Garoppolo will make his first start of the season for San Francisco.
  • Chris Raybon previews the matchup and offers his betting thoughts below.

49ers vs. Broncos Odds

Sunday, Sept. 25
8:20 p.m. ET
49ers Odds-1.5
Broncos Odds+1.5
Moneyline-122 / +104
Odds via FanDuel.

49ers vs. Broncos opened at Broncos -2.5, but it flipped to 49ers -1.5 behind 82% of the money coming in on San Francisco.

Will the Broncos finally cover a spread under new head coach Nathaniel Hackett?

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49ers vs. Broncos Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the 49ers and Broncos match up statistically:

49ers vs. Broncos DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA175
Pass DVOA126
Rush DVOA198
Overall DVOA144
Pass DVOA97
Rush DVOA175

Jimmy Garoppolo back behind center means a transition back to a more conventional offense for the 49ers after San Francisco averaged 21.0 pass attempts through two weeks, second-lowest in the NFL.

The question is, what type of a defensive scheme will Garoppolo face, pressure-wise? The Broncos have blitzed at the second-highest rate in the league through two weeks, but after being blitzed a bunch early in his career, Garoppolo has forced defenses to dial back by beating it. Per PFF, Garoppolo's 127.9 passer rating against the blitz was second of 30 qualifiers last season, and he went 4-for-4 for 51 yards and a TD when Seattle brought extra pressure last week.

The issue with not blitzing for Denver is whether it can get home against a 49er offensive line that ranks No.  1 in the league in PFF pass-blocking grade (81.0) despite three new starters on the interior. According to data from Pro Football Reference, Denver ranks seventh in pressure rate (29.2%), but has needed to blitz 45.8% of the time to generate that pressure. That will fly against Geno Smith and Davis Mills, but the 49ers offense is a step up in class, both in talent and scheme-wise.

The return of George Kittle is a major benefit to the 49ers in any matchup — they average 8.5 yards per attempt when he plays compared to 7.4 when he doesn't since 2019– but especially this one because the Broncos are down safety Justin Simmons (IR-quad). The Broncos got eviscerated by Seattle tight ends for eight catches, 102 yards, and two TDs on nine targets in Week 1.

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As long as Patrick Surtain II (questionable, shoulder) suits up, he along with Ronald Darby give the Broncos an excellent group of boundary corners to contain Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, but Kyle Shanahan is excellent at scheming in-breaking routes, which could negate that to some extent unless the Broncos up their rate of man coverage.

Of course, the 49ers will still go to their ground game often even with top back Elijah Mitchell (knee) on IR. The 49ers have been middling in run blocking thus far, ranking 18th in PFF grade (61.4), but this is another spot in which Kittle should provide a boost. Since the start of 2019, the 49ers are averaging 4.54 yards per carry when Kittle plays compared to 3.96 when he sits — a massive difference. Denver has allowed 4.77 yards per carry through two games.

With that said, Russell Wilson will face a stiff test against a loaded 49ers defensive line led by Nick Bosa that specializes in getting pressure with a four-man rush. The 49ers are fifth in pressure rate (35.7%) but 29th in blitz rate (10.7%), which is par for the course for them. Last season, Wilson destroyed the blitz but was more pedestrian when defenses dropped back in coverage and/or he was under pressure

  • Blitzed: 127.2 rating
  • Not blitzed: 95.5 rating
  • Under pressure: 81.1 rating

Wilson is a mirror image of Garoppolo in that he likes to throw deep, outside the numbers. Over a quarter of his throws this season have been targeted 10-plus yards downfield outside the numbers. This will be difficult against a 49ers defense that improved its boundary coverage by signing cornerback Charvarius Ward and has two safeties that boast a top-11 PFF coverage grade in Talanoa Hufanga (first) and Tashaun Gipson (11th).

One thing working in the Broncos' favor is that they are due for some positive regression on offense. They won't continue to be 0-for-6 in the red zone.

The best way for Wilson to beat this 49ers defense may very well be to use his own legs, but at age-34, is this still a part of his arsenal? Wilson has only scrambled 11 times over his past 10 games. He set a career-low with 13.1 rushing yards per game last season and has just five rushing yards through two games this season.

The last time Wilson faced this defense with Seattle, he went 30-of-37 and came away with a 30-23 a win, but the box score is deceiving. Almost everything for Wilson was underneath, as he averaged only 6.2 yards per attempt. He also threw a pick and took four sacks that lost a whopping 50 yards, which means his net yards per pass attempt was 4.4, which would be the lowest figure in the league among all 32 teams this season.

Also, the last time Hackett coached against Shanahan and defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans was in the NFC Divisional Playoffs when Hackett was the Packers offensive coordinator. Hackett's offense with Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams was held to 10 points and 263 yards of offense.

Betting Picks

The Broncos are better than what we've seen out of them the first two weeks, but even at home, nothing about this matchup indicates that it will be a get-right spot for them (for what it's worth, the 49ers are 17-8 ATS on the road in games started by Garoppolo).

I grabbed this line at 49ers +2.5. At -1.5, I don't see any value in the number (my personal limit was 49ers down to a pick'em), but I'd still lean 49ers as a short favorite because I give them the better chance of winning the game.

Lean: 49ers -1.5

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