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The Denver Broncos are back to .500 and will be aiming for their fourth win in a row when they visit the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon. Denver is coming off consecutive victories over the Chargers, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. The 49ers are 1-9 in their last 10 games following last weekend’s setback at Seattle.
Lindsay looking to run
San Francisco got clobbered by the Seahawks 43-16 in Week 16, mainly because the visitors could not contain a Seattle rushing attack that is not exactly one of the most prolific in the NFL. The Seahawks, behind Chris Carson and Rashaad Penny, racked up 168 yards as a team on the ground on 29 attempts.
That does not bode well for the 49ers’ chances of stopping Denver rookie running back Phillip Lindsay on Sunday. Lindsay has surged into the league lead in yards per carry (passing, among others, San Francisco’s Matt Breida). The former Colorado standout has turned 154 carries into 937 yards, good for an average of 6.1 yards per rush. He took his game to even greater heights in last Sunday’s 24-10 victory over Cincinnati, torching the Bengals to the tune of 157 yards and two touchdowns.
“He’s just out of this world,” Denver linebacker Von Miller praised. “I see it every day. Phil is Phil, and everybody can see that now.”
“I think you judge lead backs by their durability, and he’s been available every week,” head coach Vance Joseph assured. “Everyone sees his size, and everyone’s amazed of what he’s doing right now…. He’s a tough guy; he’s fast through the hole…. He gets to the second level with speed, and it’s hard to tackle a back like that. He’s been impressive; his maturity, his mentality, it’s been impressive how tough he is.”
Down the depth chart
The 2-10 49ers once again have an eye on the future, and not just because they are saddled with a terrible record this season. They have also been plagued by injuries and are now forced to play third-stringers at key positions. Thus auditions for roster spots in 2019 and beyond are already underway in San Francisco. Quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo has long since been out for the year, and running back Jerick McKinnon is also on the shelf, and Brieda–the NFC’s seventh-leading rusher, is out this week. The latter issue means Jeff Wilson Jr. will get the majority of the carries, just as he did in the loss to Seattle. Wilson burst onto the scene in that contest, going for 134 total yards on 23 touches (15 rushes, eight receptions). The undrafted rookie out of North Texas is a punishing runner who does not shy away from contact.
— Inside the 49 (@insidethe49) December 6, 2018
“No; that’s his style,” head coach Mike Shanahan said when asked if he wants Wilson to tone it down for the sake of self-preservation. “That’s what got him an opportunity in this league. That’s what he does best. That’s why he’s going to make it. I hope he doesn’t lose that, for his and our sakes. He runs hard and that’s what he does good. Hopefully, we can keep him healthy and he keeps getting better and better.”
Meanwhile, Nick Mullens continues to line up under center. Undrafted out of Southern Mississippi, Mullens threw for 414 yards against the Seahawks.
The San Francisco 49ers are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last six overall
- 1-4 ATS in their last five home games
- 1-4 ATS in their last five games following a loss
The Denver Broncos are:
- 6-1 ATS in their last seven overall
- 4-0 ATS in their last four road games
- 5-1 ATS in their last six games on grass
Updated on Dec 9 at 2:30am EST
Update prepared by our editoral staff
Public Money / Line Movements
The Sharps are liking the Niners in this one as the Loss of WR Sanders will hurt the Denver offense. The Broncos have gone from -4.5 to -3.5, despite getting 61% of the tickets.
Injury / Weather Report
No Weather Issues Are Expected
Denver’s Impact Injury Report
WR Emmanuel Sanders (868 Yards, Four TDs) is out for the year.
LB Shaquil Barrett (Three Sacks) & DB Chris Harris (49 Tackles, Three Sacks) are both out.
LB Brandon Marshall (33 Tackles) is questionable
San Francisco’s Impact Injury Report
RB Matt Breida (744 Yards, Three TDs), WR Pierre Garcon (286 Yards, One INT), and Jaquiski Tartt (42 Tackles) are all out.
DB K’Waun Williams (35 Tackles)
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
The Broncos are back in the playoff race with three straight wins to reach 6-6 and thus should continue playing inspired football this weekend. They have Lindsay to thank for being in contention. He has averaged more than 7.0 yards per carry in each of the three recent victories and he has delivered a run of at least 32 yards every time out during this same stretch. Lindsay has found the endzone five times over the last three contests. None of that bodes well for San Francisco’s reeling defense. Meanwhile, the 49ers are definitely not in playoff contention and may be concerning themselves with No. 1 draft pick possibilities. There is no reason why Denver should be unable to cover this low spread.
Prediction: Denver Broncos
Full-Game Total Pick
Denver receiver Emmanuel Sanders (71 catches, 868 yards, four touchdowns) is out for the season after suffering a torn Achilles’ this week in practice. The Broncos are going to pound the ball on the ground. They should be able to move it, but they will also be moving the clock. San Francisco, meanwhile, is a mediocre 22nd in scoring offense and 15th in total offense. The under is 4-0-1 in the Broncos’ last five overall, 5-2-1 in their last eight on the road, 10-3 in their last 13 against losing opponents, 4-0-1 in their last five following a win, and 3-0-1 in their last four after allowing fewer than 15 points in their previous outing. It is also 4-1 in the 49ers’ last five following a loss and 4-1 in their last five on grass. Look for this one to stay under the total.