Each Tuesday, WhatIfSports.com’s NFL simulation engine will provide predictions, box scores and statistics for every NFL game that week. The NFL simulation engine generates detailed information including each team’s chance of winning, average score and comprehensive box score.
The statistical inputs to the thousands of NFL games simulated are based on rigorous analysis of each team’s roster, depth chart and statistically based player ranking. Roster modifications have been made for injuries and suspensions and those players are not part of their team’s game simulation.
To account for injuries and roster moves announced late in the week, we will be re-simulating some games on Thursdays throughout the 2014 NFL season.
Twenty-five months ago, the future for Peyton Manning was far from bright. In his second game back following a year-long absence, Manning was utterly abysmal against the Falcons. It wasn’t just that he tossed three interceptions; it was how. Instead of the precision and force normally acquainted with his throws, Manning hoisted an array of wounded ducks at his receivers, akin to your buddy who wants to be the all-time quarterback at a Thanksgiving backyard game. Given his age, coupled with the health risk associated with Manning’s neck injuries, many wondered if the venerable quarterback had anything left in the tank.
Two record-breaking years later, it’s safe to say the five-time MVP has answered those concerns, and answered with vigor. On the precipice of capturing the career mark for touchdown passes, Manning and the Broncos welcome the red-hot San Francisco 49ers into Mile High for the WhatIfSports.com NFL Game of the Week.
The spotlight will be on Denver thanks to Manning’s run at history, and rightfully so. However, there are plenty of storylines emitting from the Niners’ camp. Following consecutive losses in mid-September, San Francisco appeared to be imploding. The vaunted defense suddenly looked vulnerable and Colin Kaepernick, despite a concerted effort by the team to bolster his receiving corps, was regressing. Worse, discord between Jim Harbaugh and management went public. In short, the 49ers’ prospects of reaching a fourth straight conference championship game seemed slim.
Luckily for the Scarlet and Gold faithful, the team was able to put these worries aside, notching victories in their last three games. The resistance has dusted itself off from feeble showings against Chicago and Arizona, holding opponents 287.2 yards per outing, second-lowest output in the NFL. Kaepernick’s efficiency leaves plenty to be desired, but the signal caller has found the end zone six times while throwing a lone pick during the club’s winning streak. And though Harbaugh’s abrasive demeanor won’t cool rumors of a possible coaching change in the offseason, it’s hard to argue with his results, as the franchise is 40-13 in his tenure. The 49ers certainly have their flaws, but envision the team to be a Super Bowl contender again this campaign.
Speaking of which, the Broncos have bounced backed nicely from last season’s no-show in the title game, with their only loss of the fall coming to – you guessed it – Seattle. The Denver defense, one that was retooled in the offseason, has delivered, ranking fourth in total yards. Although the rushing game has stalled, it hasn’t stopped the offense from missing a beat, averaging 29.4 points per contest, third-best in the NFL. Even in the midst of reception machine Wes Welker dealing with concussion issues, the Broncos receiving targets have risen to fill the void, with recent acquisition Emmanuel Sanders leading the team in receptions and tight end Julius Thomas flaunting a league-best nine touchdowns.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, there remains a collective impertinence to the club’s forecast. No one is doubting the team’s ability during the regular season. Alas, the absence of a viable backfield, along with Denver’s Super Bowl beat down and Manning’s suspect playoff history, has most observers in a wait-and-see approach. The fruition of the Broncos in the next three months is almost a foregone conclusion; when the calendar turns to 2015 is when this team becomes must-watch theater.
So who comes out on top in this Rocky Mountain showdown? According to the award-winning WhatIfSports.com simulation engine, the Broncos emerge with the W 56.6 percent of the time with an average score of 25-22. For the rest of this week’s projections and predictions, check below: