Submitted by Jim Hurley on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM
The San Francisco 49ers were just a few inches away from beating the Seattle Seahawks last season in the NFC Championship game. If Colin Kaepernicks pass to Michael Crabtree had been completed in the end zone in the final moments…it would have been the Niners facing Denver at the Meadowlands with the Lombardi Trophy on the line.
Sunday Night, the Niners will be facing Denver in Denver, in a game that will be nationally televised by NBC.
It won’t have a Super Bowl feel because it’s not a neutral field. But, that just means a win by San Francisco would be even MORE impressive. Message sent! Should Denver win handily, then San Francisco has no claims to make about being “uncrowned” champions. The Niners would have to refocus on making the playoffs this year. No sure thing after a 4-3 start in a killer division.
Let’s run the matchup through JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats to see how this fantastic prime time showcase should play out…
Won-Lost Records (Strength of Schedule)
San Francisco: 4-2 (ranked #7 in USA Today)
Denver: 4-1 (ranked #4 in USA Today)
Believe it or not, neither team is in first place in their respective division entering the weekend. Denver’s 4-1 mark is a notch behind San Diego’s 5-1 start in the AFC West. San Francisco actually trails both Arizona and Seattle in the NFC West. Both need a win to keep pace. A loss would be more hurtful to San Francisco reaching the playoffs in the NFC is a tougher challenge. You can see that both teams have been challenged by tough schedules already. No break this week!
San Francisco: 5.6 on offense, 4.9 on defense
Denver: 5.9 on offense, 4.7 on defense
Denver is still producing like a champions, albeit an AFC champion. Having a +1.2 differential in YPP vs. the NFL’s fourth toughest schedule is stellar. San Francisco is still solid as a rock, impressive considering all the off-field headlines the team has been making since the Preseason started. Edge to Denver. But, clear class on both sides of the field.
San Francisco: +5
This is where San Francisco has a chance to make up for YPP. Their defense is still intimidating. The offense is still conservative, particularly on third and long. They’d rather punt than risk a turnover. Last year, San Francisco was a slightly weaker version of Seattle…and you saw what Seattle did to Denver in the Super Bowl (and did through about 80% of their rematch a few weeks ago, before the Seahawks fell asleep defensively on regulation’s final drive). Denver’s defense has been a disappointment when it comes to forcing miscues. And, Peyton Manning does become a bit more turnover prone against the handful of defenses that can pressure him. Edge to the Niners here.
San Francisco: 4-2 ATS
Denver: 2-3 ATS
Even though Denver has been playing better statistically against the slightly tougher schedule, they haven’t been performing as well against market expectations. Oddsmakers still price them like a Super Bowl team…and the public loves betting them anyway! San Francisco had so much bad press entering the season that they’ve managed a 67% cover rate thus far. Denver has been better, but San Francisco has offered more Las Vegas betting value.
Current Line: Denver by 6.5, total of 50
The line keeps jumping between Denver -6.5 and Denver -7. That seven could turn out to be huge because Denver only beat Indianapolis and Kansas City by seven points on this field in early marquee matchups. Those were non-covers, the keys to why Denver is only a 40% cover team this season. Sharps really like San Francisco at +7 because the Niners are seen as equal to or superior to Indianapolis and Kansas City. If the line is at Denver -6.5, the public bets Peyton Manning hard.
How should YOU play the game? JIM HURLEY knows everyone wants to win the Sunday Night game. He’s been working overtime with his full team of experts (sources, scouts, statheads, computer programmers, Wise Guy connections) to make sure NETWORK clients get the right side (or total). You’ll be able to purchase the full Sunday card hours in advance of first kickoff right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about special offers on combination packages for football and playoff baseball, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155.
We’ll return Monday to preview the Houston/Pittsburgh game on ESPN. Here’s the upcoming schedule here in the NOTEBOOK…
Monday: NFL Stat Preview…Houston Texans at Pittsburgh Steelers
Tuesday: World Series Game One Stat Preview
Wednesday: World Series Game Two Stat Preview
Thursday: NFL Stat Preview…San Diego Chargers at Denver Broncos
Friday: College Preview…Oregon at California (Friday Night shocker?)
Saturday: College Preview…TBA (choosing from Ole Miss at LSU, Alabama at Tennessee, Ohio State at Penn State, South Carolina at Auburn)
The schedule never stops…which means THE WINNING NEVER STOPS! Don’t sit on the sidelines. Get in the game with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!
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