The Denver Broncos (1-1) are set to host the San Francisco 49ers (1-1) in Week 3 of the 2022 NFL season on Sunday Night Football this week. Here’s our game preview for the AFC vs. NFC showdown. Broncos’ keys to victory: QB Russell Wilson and HC Nathaniel Hackett will aim to improve the red zone offense this week after going 0-6 inside the opponent’s 20-yard line through two games. To do that, Hackett should call more running plays to RBs Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon, who have helped Denver average 5.0 yards per carry this year. When the Broncos do throw, the offensive line will have to key on 49ers DE Nick Bosa, who’s totaled three sacks through two games. On defense, the Broncos will aim to slow down San Francisco RB Jeff Wilson and force QB Jimmy Garoppolo to beat them through the air.
49ers’ keys to victory: After losing QB Trey Lance to an ankle injury, the Niners are going back to Jimmy G, who’s 33-14 as a starter in his career. Garoppolo will have an opportunity this week to exploit Denver’s linebackers in passing situations as ILBs Josey Jewell and Jonas Griffith have struggled at times in coverage, particularly against tight ends. After missing the first two games of the season with a groin injury, 49ers TE George Kittle aims to return in Week 3, and he could be a big mismatch against Denver’s linebackers. On defense, the 49ers should focus on guarding the sidelines and the flat in passing situations. Wilson tends to target WRs on the outside and dump the ball off to RBs in the flat — he’s less prone to target the middle of the field.
Matchup to watch: 49ers WR Deebo Samuel vs. Broncos CB Pat Surtain. Samuel will line up all over the field and he even gets snaps at RB, but when he’s lined up on the outside, the WR will likely draw Surtain in coverage if the CB is cleared to return from a shoulder injury. Samuel caught five passes and rushed four times last week.
Who wins? This might be the week that Denver puts it all together, but San Francisco certainly looked like a better team last week. 49ers 24, Broncos 21.