Jim Harbaugh doesn’t like to lose, especially back-to-back games—something he hasn’t experienced since his third year of walking the sidelines in Palo Alto in 2009. The San Francisco 49ers will look to bounce back from a 20-9 setback against the Houston Texans when traveling to the Mile High City on Sunday.
Harbaugh enjoyed incredible success during his first year as an NFL coach, leading San Francisco to a 13-3 regular season record—before getting knocked out of the playoffs by the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game.
The result was a bit surprising, but not shocking, considering he led the Stanford Cardinal football program to a 20-6 record over his last two seasons. It didn’t hurt that he had Andrew Luck under center, who was the first overall selection in the 2012 NFL draft by the Indianapolis Colts.
Alex Smith enjoyed the best year of his career under Harbaugh’s watch, but he should be motivated to perform at a high level in this Week 3 preseason matchup, considering the offseason rumors of the franchise going after Peyton Manning (via NFL.com).
Sports bettors have plenty of reasons to back the 49ers in this spot, including their perfect 2-0 against-the-spread (ATS) record following a loss during last year’s exhibition schedule.
Manning has completed 20 of 30 passes for 221 yards in his first two preseason games with his new team, but has failed to throw a scoring strike while being picked off three times.
On the other side of the ball, the Broncos will be focused on trying to stop a 49ers ground game that came into the weekend leading the NFL in averaging 189 rushing yards per game. Sunday’s host has surrendered 264 rushing yards in its first two contests.
Both sides have something to prove, but I’m going to recommend backing the visitor in this spot, especially with Denver head coach John Fox owning an 19-22-1 ATS record during his career in preseason play.
Pick: San Francisco 49ers +1.5