Sundays are for football, and it’s no different during the preseason.
NFL fans who are starving for some meaningful pigskin will be treated to a double header of action that includes Peyton Manning, Cam Newton and Colin Kaepernick. At least it will during the first quarters.
Here is a look at the schedule and television information for Sunday’s slate before we dig into some predictions:
|Sunday, Aug. 17||Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers||4 p.m. ET||NFL Network|
|Sunday, Aug. 17||Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers||8 p.m. ET||FOX|
Denver Broncos at San Francisco 49ers
We were a Richard Sherman-deflected pass away from a Denver Broncos and San Francisco 49ers Super Bowl last season. Could this be a preview of the next one?
Even if it is, fans will only see the starring pieces for a brief time. After all, it’s only Week 2 of the preseason, and health is far more important than making a statement in August.
Perhaps the biggest storyline in this matchup is the debut of the brand new Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara. Expect a nearly packed house regardless of the preseason designation as the 49ers fans break ground on their new home.
On the actual field, San Francisco’s defense could cause problems for Manning and company. Manning suggested as much, via Taylor Price of 49ers.com:
It’s not like a huge preparation when you’re playing against these guys, but it’s a good test when you play the 49ers. It’s a physical game. It’s a team that we’ll play again in the regular season, a 3-4 defense, and so [there are] lots of things we can get out of this.
However, the thought here is that San Francisco’s secondary will be exposed Sunday. Tramaine Brock will miss the game, and Chris Culliver and Chris Cook are also dealing with issues. Cam Inman of the San Jose Mercury News provided some details:
#49ers Tramaine Brock's ankle sprain to keep him out Sunday vs Broncos & won't practice until next week. Cook, Cully have minor knee issues— Cam Inman (@CamInman) August 13, 2014
One positive in this matchup from San Francisco’s perspective is the fact that it gives rookie running back Carlos Hyde a chance to get more carries against a live defense. He impressed in the preseason opener against the Baltimore Ravens in limited action with explosiveness and the strength to bust through arm tackles and should do more of the same Sunday.
However, it still won’t be enough to overcome the injury concerns in the secondary. Denver will take advantage early and often with its dangerous passing attack and cruise to victory.
Prediction: Denver 34, San Francisco 21
Kansas City Chiefs at Carolina Panthers
Carolina Panthers fans will see a welcome sight when Cam Newton returns to the field from offseason ankle surgery against the Kansas City Chiefs.
It will be his first opportunity in a live game to work with rookie wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who impressed in Week 1 of the preseason with an acrobatic 29-yard touchdown catch on a Derek Anderson pass. Look for Newton to target Benjamin throughout the opening quarter as he tries to establish a rapport with Carolina’s potential No. 1 option in the passing game.
On the Chiefs side, they will look to find the end zone on defense and special teams again after impressing in their 41-39 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
De’Anthony Thomas turned some heads with an 80-yard punt return touchdown, while Sean Smith and Malcolm Bronson both returned interceptions for scores.
Look for the Panthers to keep Newton in the game a little longer than usual so he gets more reps. It will be enough to open a lead, but Kansas City will carry over that momentum from its last game and emerge victorious.
The backups impressed against Cincinnati, especially when Travis Kelce caught a 69-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniel. Daniel connected on 8-of-10 passes for 126 yards, and the Chiefs finished with their most points in a preseason game since 1996.
Preseason outcomes may be meaningless, but Kansas City has some momentum on its side.
Prediction: Kansas City 24, Carolina 17
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