Broncos vs. Bears: TV Schedule, Live Stream, Radio, Game Time and More
We're all ready for some football, aren't we?
Sure, it may only be the preseason, but you can't tell me you aren't excited for a tilt between the Denver Broncos and the Chicago Bears on Thursday night. How will Peyton Manning look in his debut? What about the reunion of Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall? Will Matt Forte be sharp?
The games may not matter, but the storylines, positional battles and early glimpses at how each team looks at this point of the season do. Let's get previewing.
When: August 9, 2012 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: Soldier Field in Chicago, Illinois
Watch: KTVD-TV (Denver), CBN/WFLD (Chicago)
Listen: Sirius 135 (Denver) and 106 (Chicago), WBBM (Chicago)
Live Streaming: NFL Preseason Live
Betting Line: CHICAGO (-3), according to Bovada
Key Broncos Injuries (from CBS)
Running back Mario Fannin, Achilles, Out (for season)
Wide receiver Demaryius Thomas, Achilles, Questionable
Wide receiver Eric Decker, Groin and Hamstring, Probable
Running back Ronnie Hillman, Hamstring, Questionable
Quarterback Peyton Manning, Neck, Probable
Key Bears Injuries
Linebacker Brian Urlacher, Knee, Out
What's at Stake
Roster spots. Starting positions. Peyton Manning's neck. Jay Cutler's countenance. Alshon Jeffery's fantasy relevance. The Broncos running back situation.
It's the preseason—not that much is at stake except for those players fighting to make the team.
Fantasy Prospects to Watch: Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall
The last time these guys played together for the Denver Broncos in 2008, Jay Cutler threw for 4,526 yards and 25 touchdowns, Brandon Marshall snagged 104 catches for 1,265 yards and six touchdowns, and fantasy owners of each were quite pleased with their investments.
Since then, Marshall has continued to be a viable fantasy option, but Cutler has seen his own fantasy value continue to drop. I'm expecting that to change this year, and the Cutler-to-Marshall connection should be on display on Thursday night.
What They're Saying
A big part of Cutler's drop in fantasy relevance had something to do with Mike Martz's crazy offensive ideas. But it also was in large part because, outside of Matt Forte, he didn't have many weapons. But with Marshall, Devin Hester, Earl Bennett and rookie Alshon Jeffery, that has changed this season.
Earlier in camp, Cutler had called it like Christmas with all the new "toys" he had at wide receiver. Cutler is no less impressed with his receivers even after a day when the offense struggled in the red zone. He commended GM Phil Emery for upgrading the talent level from what it was under former GM Jerry Angelo.
"Even the guys that didn't get drafted can play football," Cutler said.
It will be fun to see those "toys" in action on Thursday.
Broncos Player to Watch: Peyton Manning
You can't tell me that all eyes won't be on Manning (even if he's on the sidelines). The moment he so much as gets touched, the entire city of Denver will hold its breath.
As for the rest of us, it will certainly be intriguing to see how Manning looks after missing the entirety of last season with a neck injury. Plus, it will just be bizarre to see him in a uniform other than the Indianapolis Colts jersey we've come accustomed to see him wearing.
It's a new era in Denver, a new start for Manning and about as intriguing a storyline you'll see in a preseason game.
Bears Player to Watch: Matt Forte
After missing the entire offseason program before finally agreeing to a contract extension with the Bears, how will Forte look in his first game action?
Chances are, he'll look as explosive and versatile as ever. While the passing attack got a revamp this offseason, the key to the Bears' attack remains Forte, in my opinion. His ability to strike at any moment either in the run or out of the backfield as a receiver makes him the team's most dangerous player.
Another point of interest: Will we see Michael Bush snake a goal-line opportunity away from Forte tonight? Pay attention, fantasy fans—Forte will certainly be an excellent option, but Bush will probably keep him from being an elite fantasy back this season.
Key Matchup: Von Miller vs. the Chicago Bears Offensive Line
Last season, Von Miller took the NFL by storm in his rookie campaign, finishing with 64 tackles, 11.5 sacks and two forced fumbles. Not surprisingly, he won the AP NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year award and was named to the Pro Bowl.
Meanwhile, the Bears' offensive line gave up 49 sacks last season, with Cutler being dropped 23 times in the 10 games he played. The last thing Chicago fans will want to see is Cutler hitting the turf in a preseason game.
And the player most likely to do just that is the ferocious Miller.
The starters will play one quarter, someone you've never heard of will make a slew of big plays, most of the broadcast will center on Manning and nobody except diehard fans will be watching once the fourth quarter rolls around.
The Olympics are on, after all.
Look for the Broncos to take this one, 21-17.
Hit me up on Twitter—my tweets don't walk, jog, run or sprint, they Bolt.
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