The lead story among most beat writers going into this Sunday’s 49ers-Colts game is that San Francisco is winless, but has lost 3 games by a combined 8 points. While it’s true that close losses indicate a competitive level of athleticism on a football team, it does not mean an NFL squad is ready to break out.
Talent is similar on all 32 NFL teams. Experience, resolve, coaching, and occasional great stars at QB and other positions spell the difference every weekend. Far from an unlucky bunch, the 49ers have exhibited several common traits of losing teams.
San Francisco’s offense ranks near the bottom of the league on 3rd down. They’re ranking 28th in the NFL in Red Zone efficiency, and QB Brian Hoyer has been a disappointment. 4 players are currently injured on defense – safety Adrian Colbert (hamstring), LB Reuben Foster (ankle), safety Eric Reid (knee), and LB Dekoda Watson (groin).
Can the Colts take advantage? Indy has not been running the ball efficiently, which shows in their 1-3 record. But QB Jacoby Brissett has proven handy at scrambling for 1st downs.
Some pundits think there is no way Indianapolis can lose, since this is the weekend Peyton Manning is scheduled to be in town to cut the ribbon on a statue chiseled in his likeness. We’re gonna say that whatever rock the statue is made of, the same substance must be inside the noggin of anyone making a bet on that basis.
Who: San Francisco 49ers at Indianapolis Colts
When: Sunday, October 8th, 1 PM EST
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, IN
Lines: SF (+1.5) at Indy (-1.5) / O/U Total: (44.5)
The 49ers can win their first game of the season if they out-rush the Colts. Running back Carlos Hyde has scampered for 321 yards over 4 losses, and has a pair of touchdowns. Critics are calling him one of the better all-around tailbacks in the league, but let’s see if his team can win a scrum first, Indianapolis is only ranked 25th in the NFL in rush defense.
For all of the injuries in San Francisco, the key to the Colts’ swoon this season is obviously the sidelining of QB Andrew Luck with injury. Brissett is getting better each week, but does he have the weapons to produce a home win on such a ceremonial Sunday?
Brissett and his WRs were excellent in a Week 3 win over Cleveland. The QB was 17-of-24 for 259 yards and a TD, and receiver T.Y. Hilton was excellent with 7 catches and 159 yards on just 9 targets. RB Frank Gore is potentially ready for a get-well game against San Francisco, and can help protect Brissett by occupying the 9’ers inside.
We’re taking the Colts to cover (+1.5) points, but not because of Peyton Manning.
Instead, the current QB in Indianapolis will make the difference with scrambling and smart throws. It won’t be a huge margin of victory, but Indy should prevail.