Zylbert’s NFL Over/Unders: How Will Injuries Affect Broncos-49ers Game?
James Snook, USA Today Sports. Pictured: Nick Mullens
Betting odds: Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers
- Over/Under: 45.5
- Time: 4:05 p.m. ET
- Channel: CBS
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Zylbert’s 2018 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 6-7-2, -1.8 units
Last Week’s Results: 49ers-Seahawks Under 47 (loss), Vikings-Patriots Over 49 (loss)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit
Jeff Wilson. Richie James. Tim Patrick. Matt LaCosse. River Cracraft.
No, those are not fake “create a players” from Madden. Not only are they are indeed real, but they are going to be relied upon as main contributors in this Week 14 clash between the Broncos and 49ers from Levi’s Stadium.
Wilson is expected to be the primary ball-carrier for the Niners. Essentially, the undrafted rookie is the club’s fifth-string running back — fifth! — but will lead the backfield with Matt Breida (ankle) sidelined. Jerick McKinnon (torn ACL), Raheem Mostert (broken arm) and Alfred Morris (“old”) have come and gone.
Although Wilson looked serviceable in his first NFL start last week against the Seahawks, it should also be noted that a lot of his solid work came in garbage time, with the 49ers getting blown out for much of the contest.
Ditto that for quarterback Nick Mullens, who topped 400 yards in only his fourth career start, but again, he was able to pile up the stats with the game already well out of hand.
Overall, this offense is averaging 20.5 points per game with the undrafted Southern Miss product under center — and only 15 points per following his Thursday Night debut opposite the dreadful Oakland Raiders defense.
Considering Denver’s own rash of injuries, don’t expect a similar blowout to unfold. The Broncos’ receiving arsenal already endured a major hit last month when veteran Demaryius Thomas was dealt to the Houston Texans. Now, their other veteran wide-out is gone after Emmanuel Sanders fractured his fibula Wednesday in practice and will miss the remainder of the season.
Quarterback Case Keenum was already slumping a bit following the trade of Thomas. In the four games since, he’s averaged a meager 210.8 yards per week while completing only 58.5% of his passes during this span. Taking Sanders out of the equation is only going to make things more difficult for the sixth-year journeyman.
As it is, the under has gone 30-20 (60%) in Keenum’s 50 career starts.
Of course, don’t be surprised to see promising up-and-coming rookie Courtland Sutton — who has fantasy analysts salivating — unleashed as the unquestioned WR1. But beyond him, it’s a mishmash of mediocrity, at best, which should enable the Niners to cinch in on Sutton.
Fellow rookie DaeSean Hamilton, who has recorded just five catches in 10 games, will pick up his first career start. The aforementioned LaCosse, Patrick and Cracraft will serve as Keenum’s other pass-catching options.
Under bettors might genuinely be concerned about electrifying first-year tailback Philip Lindsay but the 49ers have a quality run defense, yielding 4.2 yards per tote, tied for 10th-best in the league. Given the state of Denver’s receivers, that’s an area San Francisco can focus even more on.
The Broncos also sustained a significant injury on the other side of the ball with No. 1 corner Chris Harris Jr. going down for the year, but this is still a talented enough defense that can contain a depleted Mullens-led group.
They excel at rushing the passer above anything and this is a great matchup to exploit that. San Francisco is tied for having the sixth-most sacks allowed (38), while Denver is tied for fifth in most sacks recorded with 37. Led by Von Miller and rookie Bradley Chubb, it’s one of the more intimidating units in football.
With a playoff berth still within reach, we can fully expect a spirited defensive effort from the Broncos to help keep this score on the low side. The 49ers, meanwhile, have an underrated defense that can also play a role in this under.
Play: UNDER 45.5 (-110)