The San Francisco 49ers and Indianapolis Colts get things going in a few hours, and I hope you’re ready for the first 10 a.m. PT game of the season. The 49ers have spent the first four weeks of the season almost entirely on the west coast, with a trip to Arizona the only movement outside of the left coast.
Starting today, the 49ers play three of their next four games on the road in the eastern time zone. Indianapolis is near the end of the time zone, but they will follow this game with a road game against Washington, a home game against Dallas, and then a road game against Philadelphia. They get a welcome respite after that, with three home games and a bye week over the next four weeks.
The 49ers head into this game as a 1.5-point favorite, in a game that could be their best chance for a win until they host Arizona in Week 9. Upsets could very well happen between now and then, but this is an excellent chance for a first win.
I chatted with Stampede Blue site manager Brett Mock this week, and we each discussed what we thought might transpire on Sunday. Brett has his Colts edging out the 49ers 27-24. I go the reverse, with a narrow 20-16 win for our 49ers.
Here’s what Brett had to say about how the game will go down. You can view my thoughts over at Stampede Blue here.
I wouldn't be surprised if this is a sloppy football game. Hoyer and Brissett aren't close to marquee quarterbacks and both have their own propensity to make some mistakes. These are unfamiliar opponents with teams that are almost completely different from when we met four years ago. I see the circumstances of Peyton Manning being in town to be inducted into the ring of honor, the unveiling of his statue on Saturday, and the retirement of his jersey on Sunday as reasons the house will be completely packed and potentially very loud.
I think Frank Gore will bring a lot of energy to this game. He is a huge competitor, as you know, and is completely aware that this might be the last time he plays his old team. Couple his energy with the return of center Ryan Kelly to the heart of the Colts offensive line and I think we'll be able to get the ball moving a bit on the ground.
If Gore and Kelly do have a good day on the ground, I see Brissett working in play-action and taking some shots deep. If the offense is opportunistic and has balance, that will be a huge plus for the Colts.
I think that defensively we'll be strong in the first half. We have been that way every game this season, even in our blowout against the Rams -- particularly against the run. These are all things that would indicate a good chance for a Colts victory.
Here is where I will pump the brakes.
Unforced errors, on both sides of the ball, have ripped the Indy's young season to shreds at this point. Ridiculous defensive personnel choices given down and distance. Poor defensive play design utilizing slants and stunts that give up the edges to an athletic runner like Hyde. Bad decisions by a second-year quarterback who has thrown two brutal picks. Far too many penalties. It is these things that can turn the tide. Defensive touchdowns or another second half defensive collapse will save the day for the 49ers if they expect to win.
With Manning in town and a raucous crowd I think the Colts win 27-24.