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49ers vs Broncos preview: Denver looks for back-to-back wins

Russell Wilson and the Broncos look to iron out the kinks against San Francisco on SNF to get win No. 2.

Houston Texans v Denver Broncos Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The problems have been discussed.

Ad nauseam.

Now it’s time to fix them.

The next opportunity for the Denver Broncos to do just that is against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football. Whether you believe the problems are correctable determines your feeling heading into this Week 3 prime-time game.

At DraftKings Sportsbook, the Broncos are a +1.5-point underdog. That’s after Denver opened the week as a -2.5-point favorite. The total currently sits at 45 for Sunday night’s game. For what it’s worth, the Broncos are 0-2 against the spread and the under has hit in both games to the start season.

Offensive Rankings

San Francisco: Fifteenth in overall offense (352.0 yards per game), fourth in rushing (182.5), 29th in passing (169.5), tied for 19th in scoring offense (18.5 points per game).

Denver: Seventh in overall offense (391.5 yards per game), 10th in rushing (126), eighth in passing (265.5), 24th in scoring offense (16 points per game).

Defensive Rankings

San Francisco: First in overall defense (210 yards per game), second in rushing defense (67.5), first in passing defense (142.5), tied for third in scoring defense (13 points per game).

Denver: Third in overall defense (243.5 yards per game), fifth in rushing defense (78.0), fifth in passing defense (165.5), tied for third in scoring defense (13 points per game).

Here are the MHR staff’s keys to Sunday night’s game.

Red zone/goal-to-go offense

Call it unlucky. Call it poor game management. Call it bad play calling. More than likely it’s all three. In six red zone trips this season, Wilson and the Broncos are 0-for-6. In five goal-to-go situations, Denver is 0-for-5. Denver scores touchdowns, it’s 2-0. In the first two games, Wilson and the offense have moved the ball effectively. Now the Broncos need to finish drives with touchdowns. — Ian St. Clair

Improving communication on offense

The Broncos are getting way too many penalties and we’re seeing way too much indecision from a play-calling perspective. If they can clean up and streamline the sideline portion of the communication, the offense is going to hum and the chances of the Broncos winning this game go way up. — sadaraine

Lean on the rushing attack

Give Javonte Williams the football. He has been the best offensive player so far. Get him the ball, control the tempo of the game, and limit the potential for the issues that have plagued the offense this season. Knowing that Williams can carry the load should give Hackett and Wilson a nice security blanket when communication breaks down and the crowd has to start doing a play clock countdown. — Adam Malnati

Shut down the run

The 49ers are fourth in the league in rushing yards through two weeks with 365 on 82 carries. That came from a variety of places — predominantly running back Jeff Wilson, receiver Deebo Samuel, and quarterback Trey Lance. With Lance now out for the year, Jimmy Garoppolo will need to lean on his rushing game to help him out after getting very little practice with the ones (or any unit) in training camp. If DJ Jones and company can shut that down and force the 49ers to get one-dimensional in the passing game, opportunities for turnovers due to miscommunication or bad timing between Garoppolo and his receivers should be there to take advantage of. — Taylor Kothe

More responsibilities for the Mile High crowd

That should include counting the number of players on the field or yelling “KICK” v. “GO FOR IT” when needed. Maybe chant “TIME OUT” too??? OK, seriously, I think the Broncos have all the talent for beating many teams, including the 49ers, but it’s how prepared Nathaniel Hackett is for managing the game that will determine whether the Broncos offense can do what it needs to when the time is right. Hackett needs to be smart and decisive because Kyle Shanahan has been scheming around our weaknesses since Week 1 and will most certainly take advantage of a coaching staff unsure of itself, unsure of its options and unsure of its talent. — Laurie Lattimore-Volkmann

Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See for details.

What are your keys to Sunday night’s game?