49ers-Broncos Meet in London at Wembley Staduim
The 49ers are in London preparing to take on the Denver Broncos this Sunday at Wembley Stadium.
While the 49ers are 1-6 after losing to a previously un-victorious Carolina Panthers team, Denver is coming off a 59-14 bullying by the Raiders.
First we throw three boatloads of tea into Boston Harbor, and now we give them this? Apologies, England. We can blame the monarchy for the tea thing, but there's not justification for this one.
Nevertheless, a decent contest should ensue between these two cellar dwellers. Denver is clinging to the slightest glimmer of hope, while the 49ers are living on a prayer. Neither franchise will play without some semblance pride on the line.
They're not the best teams in the league, to say the least, but check out the eminent battle as these franchises pull out all the stops in a desperate attempt to steer themselves in a positive direction.
I see your redcoats, and I'll raise you American football, where you pick it up and throw it with your hands.
NFL for the U.K.
Coaching: Josh McDaniels and Mike Singletary
Josh McDaniels has turned Denver into a pass-happy offensive machine.
Passing: Kyle Orton and Troy Smith
The 49ers are the bigger story with Troy Smith taking over quarterback duty this week, but the edge in the passing game must go to Denver. Kyle Orton already already has over 2000 yards passing this year. Smith hasn't put up that many yards in his entire NFL career.
McDaniels knows passing and producing quarterbacks.
Singletary is more familiar with breaking quarterbacks. As a player he was a monster linebacker on a legendary defense. In his limited years a coach though, he has shuffled through several quarterbacks. From J.T. O'Sullivan, to Sean Hill, to Alex Smith, a little dash of Davis Carr, and now Troy Smith; Singletary is insurmountably far more likely to find a functional quarterback than he is to groom one. Even his pet project Alex Smith been derailed.
Quarterback is the benchmark for leadership in this game, and a reflection of the coach's compass needle. It will speak volumes about exactly which direction either franchise is headed in.
Running Backs Knowshon Moreno vs. Frank Gore
Frank Gore hasn't played to his normal standard this year, but neither has Moreno. In fact, if San Francisco has one sure advantage in this game, it will be in the running game.
That's not to say Moreno can't hurt you if you're careless; he's got some tools to hurt a defense, but Gore has more.
Moreno is backed by Laurence Maroney and Correll Buckhalter. Gore is backed by Brian Westbrook and Anthony Dixon.
Receiving: A Familiar Face and Underachievers
Former 49er wide out Brandon Lloyd has had a resurgent 2010 so far. Loyd has already amassed 35 receptions for over 700 yards, well on his way for a career high.
Eddie Royal and Jabar Gaffney also have promise and can be threats to a secondary.
The 49ers have a very talented group of underachievers as receivers. Much of this can be attributed to inconsistent quarterback play, to which one could pass the buck to the offensive line for.
Vernon Davis does have a touchdown in each of his last three games, but the potential for him to do more is certainly real.
Michael Crabtree is yet to find a consistently productive comfort zone in the 49ers offense. Ted Ginn, Jr.'s speed hasn't been effectively utilized either. Josh Morgan and Dominique Zeigler have made decent plays, but should do much more after the catch.
If you've watched the 49ers at all this year, you don't need anybody to tell you about the two rookies impacts this year.
The Broncos also sport a rookie, Zane Beadles, at right tackle. San Francisco needs to exploit him if at all possible.
The rest of their lines are quite similar, with a slight edge in mass going to the 49ers. As any player knows, however, mass is a terrible substitute for leverage.
Denver uses a true 3-4 just like the 49ers, and the last team San Francisco played who did that were the Kansas City Chiefs. Remember how that turned out?
The three down linemen on the Broncos, Jamal Williams, Kevin Vickerson and Justin Bannan are pretty huge. They clear lanes for a line backing corp that can include the freaky Jarvis Moss.
Their secondary employs veterans Brian Dawkins and Champ Bailey. Their veteran savvy makes Denver's defensive back field formidable.
There's typically little need to mention kickers during matchups, but when in London...
I know, I know: American gootball is a game where one carries, throws and passes a prolate spheroid. We probably should have called it "hand egg" in retrospect.
Still, there are times in which we kick the damn ball. Whether it's through the uprights for points, to the other team for field position or a small handful of other reasons, we do kick it every once in a while.
And if you blokes like that, you're in luck! Andy Lee is one of the NFL's best punters. Joe Nedney isn't flashy for distance, but he's practically automatic from medium range.
Denver's Matt Prater and Britton Colquitt are no slouches either though.
If watching NFL teams play in England over the last couple years has taught me one thing, it's that you guys don't like kneel downs at the end of a game. Well, the 49ers have lost plenty of games on last-minute blunders, which have often culminated in last-second field goals.
Of course, seeing as it's supposedly a 49ers home game, please don't cheer too loudly if this happens.
Venue: Wembley Stadium
Where the hell are we? To quote Avi in the Guy Ritchie classic Snatch: "Bad food, worse whether, Mary f***ing Poppins, London!"
Truth be told, I would love to visit the isles should I ever travel outside the borders of my beautiful country.
We only wonder, though, will we be hearing vuvuzelas? (Please say no.)
Or will we be hearing crowds chant spirited song as they do at soccer matches (yeah, I said soccer) and Ricky Hatton fights?
It should be an interesting cultural mixing, regardless.
No matchup article of mine will ever again be complete without a picture of my girlfriend; she's the one in the cheerleader outfit. Please make sure they get home safely to the US of A for me.