Pre-Season Week 2: Defensive Blues
I've been tracking the NFL pre-season totals for a couple of reasons.
One of them being because I have no life.
But seriously, there's data out there indicating definite trends exist in the pre-season.
Here's one person's observations as he got ready for the action to begin:
One trend that stands out is the number of games that have gone over in Week 2 compared to Week 1 (including the Hall of Fame Game). Prior to this week, the over record was 4-13. That's not necessarily surprising, since first-unit offenses see very limited action in Week 1 of the exhibition season.
However, already in Week 2, with three games still on the docket, that number has doubled, with eight games already ging over. That means only five games haven't, with three still on the Week 2 schedule that commences Monday night with the Browns and Redskins.
Using that info and translating it into making some money, I think it's a very safe assumption to say today's Broncos v 49ers game goes over Bovada's total of 42.
There's no need to go into building a case for Peyton Manning's ability to generating points in this game. The only question is how long he'll play. Rumblings from the Mile High City hint he'll be on the field for a large chunk of the first half. That should give the Broncos a great chance of getting about halfway to 42 by themselves at intermission.
Manning will then give way to Brock Osweiler, who actually put up some nice numbers in relief last week in Denver's pre-season win over the Seahawks. And you know how good that defense is. Even their reserves. The 6-8, 240lb Osweiler was 6-12 for 85 yards in that contest, with a 34-yard touchdown strike giving Bronco fans plenty of hope that they may have a nice piece of insurance if Manning ever misses regular-season snaps.
There's also a possible emerging star in the backfield with Juwan Thompson, who averaged nearly 10 yards per tote in last week's pre-season opener. Montee Ball will miss this game for Denver, giving Thompson plenty more chances to shine, and he's defintely someone to keep an eye on.
On the other side of the ball, look for San Francisco to rebound from a disappointing outing last week when they only mustered a field goal against Baltimore. This team has too many weapons for a repeat performance. Look for Head Coach Jim Harbaugh to let his first unit have ample time to get some rhythm in the first half and easily put double digits on the board by the half this time around.
Their efforts will be aided by the absence of Denver linebacker Danny Trevathan, the Broncos' leading tackler last season. He's injured, and Denver will be starting the game going one spot down on their depth chart from the onset.
Another reason I've been monitoring NFL totals is to observe how the increased emphasis in illegal contact has been impacting games. As if the rules weren't seriously skewed towards offenses already, they're getting extended drives now because officials seem to think it's illegal contact if a defender breathes on a receiver beyond five yards on any route. Watch for that as well, and watch these two teams light up the scoreboard in what should be a pretty entertaining pre-season tilt
My pick: Broncos v 49ers over 42
Result: Denver 34 San Francisco 0 total = 34 under covers
Follow me on Twitter @SopranoSteve