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Broncos vs. 49ers prediction: Will defenses reign supreme on SNF?

Denver and San Francisco could both struggle to score in their Week 3 matchup after inconsistent starts to the season.

Dre'Mont Jones (#93) of the Denver Broncos celebrates after a sack in the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Empower Field At Mile High on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)
Dre'Mont Jones (#93) of the Denver Broncos celebrates after a sack in the fourth quarter of the game against the Houston Texans at Empower Field At Mile High on September 18, 2022 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)Read moreJustin Edmonds / Getty Images

What seemed like a surefire heavyweight clash when the schedule was announced is landing with a thud on Sunday night, when the 49ers and Broncos face off in what already feels like a must-win game for both clubs.

Denver opened as a short favorite at home, but San Francisco has drawn bettors’ favor during the week and enters this one as road chalk after an eventful win last week.

Here’s how we’re betting Sunday night’s contest, which kicks off at 8:20 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Broncos vs. 49ers Prediction

  1. Under 43.5 (-110 BetMGM)

Broncos vs. 49ers Prediction: The Analysis

After the way these two teams have started the season, it’s fair to ask something that would have seemed outlandish just two weeks ago: are either of these teams any good?

That may seem harsh to say about two teams that entered the year priced among the top eight teams in the league to win it all. Both had win totals of 9.5 or higher at most shops, and each were among the most hyped teams in the league as they entered their first year with a new signal-caller at the helm.

And yet here we are, staring at a pair of 1-1 teams with a whole lot to prove and not a lot to get excited about through two weeks.

The Broncos opened this game as short favorites, but it’s no surprise that the public has turned on this group after two wholly uninspiring efforts to start the season. Denver was historically sloppy in its Week 1 loss to the Seahawks, committing 12 penalties and fumbling twice at the 1-yard line, though it was easy to write that one off given the electric atmosphere in Russell Wilson’s return to Seattle.

» READ MORE: Commanders vs. Eagles prediction: Bet on a shoot-out between Hurts, Wentz

So what’s the excuse for last week’s performance? Once again, Denver’s offense looked disjointed under first-year head coach Nathaniel Hackett, who is also calling plays for the first time since 2018, when the Jaguars fired him as their offensive coordinator in the middle of the season. This stint isn’t going much better. The Broncos scored just 16 points for the second consecutive week, while Wilson completed just 14 of 31 passes against a Texans defense light on talent.

The 49ers’ offense also received a pass for their Week 1 performance against the Bears, which came amid monsoon-like conditions at Soldier Field. Stil, the 49ers only scored 10 points and were held scoreless over the final 23 minutes of that one. Last week’s 27-7 win over the Seahawks was a nice confidence-booster, but it came at the expense of starting quarterback Trey Lance (ankle).

Ironically, that meant turning back to former starter Jimmy Garoppolo, who entered the season as a high-priced backup coming off shoulder surgery. He looked just fine off the bench in a limited role, though it can’t be overstated that Garoppolo saw virtually no reps in camp and that this offense was tailored for Lance before his Week 2 injury.

I’m not so sure things will go as well for Garoppolo against this Broncos defense, which sacked Davis Mills three times last week and held the second-year passer to 177 yards on 50% passing. Conversely, Wilson has his hands full trying to run the dysfunctional Hackett offense against this Niners front, which has sacked him multiple times in 16 of 20 career meetings.

It seems as though the betting market is struggling to determine which of these sides is actually the better team. I feel the same way. What I do know is that these two defenses will be the best units on the field on Sunday, so I’ll gladly take the under after what we’ve seen to this point.

Broncos vs. 49ers Odds (via BetMGM)

  1. 49ers -1.5 (-110), moneyline -120

  2. Broncos +1.5 (-110), moneyline +100

  3. O/U 43.5 (-110)

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