With six games on the docket tonight, I think we’re finally going to get some NFL Preseason football. The Hall of Fame Game was cancelled because of the field conditions in Canton. The story goes that the field crew applied incorrect paint for that type of field, resulting in cement like paint, and pieces of the rubber field skewed all over the place. The NFL called the game off after they felt it wasn’t a playable surface. How embarrassing for a multi-billion dollar organization. But in any case, the game is the worst of the year so it wasn’t too much of a loss. Kickoff of the preseason was ultimately delayed until Thursday night. For the football hungry crowd, they’ll be about to get their fix tonight.
We’re going to head out to Chicago, where the Denver Broncos will be taking on the Chicago Bears. The stakes aren’t exactly as high as the last game the Broncos played in. The Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers in Super Bowl 50 to send Peyton Manning off with a Super Bowl ring, the second of his career. Things are going to look a little different in Denver this year from under center. The Broncos will be defending their Super Bowl without one of the best leaders in football in their corner in 2016. Manning is retired, so now the Broncos are searching for their next quarterback.
The Broncos signed Mark Sanchez in the offseason, who has seen all of the highs and lows the NFL has to offer. While Manning was an unquestioned leader on the Broncos’ Super Bowl roster, he wasn’t the reason they won that championship. If it weren’t for their incredible defense, the headlines would have been questioning Peyton Manning’s ability to get the Broncos back to the Super Bowl. Manning fished the regular season with a quarterback rating of 67.9, the worst of his 17-year career.
To put it into perspective, Brandon Weeden had a better quarterback rating. Moral of the story is that the Broncos could still ride their defense to the top of the league again. Sanchez is serviceable enough to allow the defense to win games. However, while everybody is focusing on the Denver quarterback problem, I’m skeptical of another position. Get more details on this matchup below, along with my NFL Preseason pick for Thursday night.
Denver Broncos vs. Chicago Bears NFL Preseason Betting Odds:
vs. Bears -1(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Broncos vs. Bears Pick:
The offensive line is going to be a work in progress for the Broncos this season. The defensive effort may have to be even better than last year for them to win the Super Bowl. Yeah, Manning absent is something to note, but when it comes down to it, it’s going to be the offensive line that needs to put a solid season together. Regardless though, Sanchez or whoever else is starting at quarterback will be blamed for any erroneous plays. The offensive line is in dire straights right now. The focus is going to be on the quarterbacks, notably Sanchez, Trevor Siemian, and rookie Paxton Lynch. This will make for the most interesting quarterback race of the preseason.
Problems on the line loom for all three quarterbacks in the preseason. Injuries are mounting on the offensive line, with the Broncos having to sign Sam Carlson, a rookie out of Colorado State, and another rookie out of Wingate, Mathu Gibson. The Broncos were lining up Ty Sambrailo to start at right guard, a guy who only made three appearances as a rookie a year ago. An injury, however, a hyperextended elbow, forced the Broncos to move deeper down the depth chart. Depth is going to be a major problem for them, especially down the stretch towards the winter. Sanchez is expected to play a quarter, Siemian a quarter, and Lynch is going to play the entire second-half.
Lynch, the highly touted rookie out of Memphis, is expected to blossom into a quality start for the Broncos. But as a guy who has watched him play plenty in college, and wagered on Memphis, I just don’t see him meeting expectations. He looked completely lost in his final audition for the NFL against Auburn, a SEC team, the best defense he possible played in his career. By SEC standards, Auburn had an abysmal defense. With lots of time to prepare for Lynch, Auburn figured him out pretty quickly.
The Bears will start with Jay Cutler, expected to get a couple series or so, and then turn their attention to Brian Hoyer who has ample experience as a starter in the NFL. David Fales will get more work in the Bears’ offense in the preseason as well. Fales has been with the Bears since 2014 and has only seen action in the preseason. I think Lynch is going to have problems getting going in his first ever NFL appearance, though. A bad offense line doesn’t help rookies out any, and these preseason games are usually decided in the 4th quarter. I see the Bears edging out the Broncos by 3 or 4 points on Thursday night.
PICK: BEARS -1 (-110)