With the Patriots beating the Jets I am now officially 60-31-1 on the season. Once Stanford/Arizona State is finalized I will be releasing a supplementary article digesting my picks for Week 8 of the college football season (hint I’m 2-2 so far today). Anyways on to the Sunday Night game between the Broncos and the 49ers.
49ers at Broncos
San Francisco’s Keys to Victory:
1. Kaepernick needs to trust his arm: Colin Kaepernick threw for 343 yards and three touchdowns in a 31-17 victory. As good of an athlete as he is, there’s a reason San Francisco has Frank Gore in the backfield. The veteran back already has 403 yards on the season but only one touchdown. Denver ranks fourth in total defense and San Francisco can’t be one dimensional in this one.
2. Be Physical: If you look at the Super Bowl 48 tape you will realize (if you haven’t already) that the Seahawks manhandled the Broncos on both offense and defense. Denver is definitely more of a finesse than a power football team, and Peyton Manning might not know what to do if you attack him with a defense like San Francisco’s.
3. Keep an eye on Julius Thomas: Peyton Manning really likes to go to this guy and there’s a chance he might surpass Rob Gronkowski’s tight end record of 17 this year (Thomas has nine on the year). Double cover him if you can, and make Manning look elsewhere.
Denver’s Keys to Victory:
1. Get Ronnie Hillman going: Hillman rushed for 100 yards against a tough New York Jets rushing defense. Montee Ball is out with a groin injury for another week, but Hillman can still make some plays and Manning might need some help to get San Francisco’s rough defense off his back.
2. Don’t focus on the record: Peyton Manning is just a few touchdown passes away from surpassing Brett Favre’s career mark of 508. However, the Broncos offense shouldn’t just be focusing on getting Manning to 509, they also need to make sure to win this game too. I know this goes without saying, but history can distract you sometimes…
3. Demarcus Ware and Von Miller need to step up: Kaepernick wasn’t sacked at all last week. However, Miller leads the team with six on the year, followed by Ware’s four. If Kaepernick is able to scramble and get out of the pocket it could be a long day for this defense. Both linebackers need to apply pressure and force turnovers in order to give Denver the edge that it needs.
My Prediction: Denver wins by a Manning. San Francisco is going to have a hard time winning in Denver, because if Manning is able to surpass Favre’s career mark all bets could be off. The 49ers are a contender and they have my respect, but I don’t trust them enough to take this one.
Texans at Steelers
Houston’s Keys to Victory:
1. Start out strong: The Texans were shut out in the first quarter in a 33-28 loss to the Colts last Thursday. According to ESPN the Steelers defense averages 44.7 yards per game in the first quarter so it might be hard to reverse that trend. They’ve got to find some way to generate offense early so that they won’t suffer heartbreakers like the overtime defeat to the Dallas Cowboys two weeks ago or the comeback that fell just short against Indianapolis. That brings me to #2.
2. Give Foster the ball: He is coming off his second straight 100 yard game, so while quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick may struggle, Houston still has that old bell cow they can hang their hat on (did I seriously just type that sentence). Get Foster going and you will have a chance in this one. It also gets me fantasy points 🙂
3. The D needs to step up: As good as J.J. Watt is, the defense ranks 27th in the NFL in offensive yards allowed. That could be trouble, especially when you have a team featuring explosive athletes such as Antonio Brown. Step up the passing defense and get back to winning football.
Pittsburgh’s Keys to Victory:
1. Get Bell going: Le’Veon Bell has no touchdowns in five weeks. The Steelers pride themselves in being able to run the football, and they definitely need to get back to their roots with this talented back.
2. Watch out for Clowney: There is a very high likelihood that Jadeveon Clowney could be returning for Monday’s game. Should that happen, Ben Roethlisberger might have an outing very similar to the one where he threw an interception and was partially responsible for a 31-10 defeat. Even if Big Ben does run out of time there will probably be weaknesses in the secondary, and that’s where he should focus.
3. Harass Fitzpatrick: Ryan Fitzpatrick really isn’t that good of a quarterback so don’t be surprised if he throws an interception or two in this one. The Steelers need to key in on Foster first though, but I’m sure they already know that 🙂
My Pick: I like the Texans in this one believe it or not. I think Foster has what it takes to carry this team, and I still have a lot of questions about the Steelers consistency. It’s a slippery slope but I’m going for the upset.
Stay Classy Everyone!