Oct 4, 2015; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick (7) is sacked by Green Bay Packers inside linebacker Clay Matthews (52) in the third quarter at Levi Stadium. Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
Last Game: 20 Points Allowed, 3 Sacks, 1 Fumble Recovery; 6.00 fantasy point
I don’t know about the rest of you, but the defense has actually been the unit that’s been most exciting to me in this 6-0 start to the year.
They have the top scoring defense in the league (16.8 ppg), are ranked #7 in Defensive DVOA — including #5 pass defense DVOA — and produce turnovers more consistently than just about anyone (a turnover in 42 straight games; franchise and league record).
They’ve faced a host of intimidating foes and come away victorious.
Star running backs? They’ve faced Matt Forte, Marshawn Lynch, Jamaal Charles, Carlos Hyde, Todd Gurley and the Melvin Gordon/Branden Oliver/Danny Woodhead combination, only really giving up decent yardage to Forte and one big run to Gurley.
Quarterbacks? Check off surviving guys like Russell Wilson and Philip Rivers. It was difficult for them and any others to do much against a strong multi-level pass rush (23 sacks on the year, spread across a handful of players).
Receivers? Though Keenan Allen had a great day in Week 6, few others have made any consistent impact due to mostly-stellar play from the coverage unit.
This high-functioning unit may give up yardage at times, but they have made stops at crucial junctions as needed.
They have a good matchup here. For all intents and purposes, Peyton Manning is finished. He leads the league in INTs (10), every other throw is a duck, and he has stopped inflicting fear through his mere presence. Despite what players and coaches on Green Bay have said, the way defenses play him now shows what is really thought of him; they dare him to throw. Unimaginable, even this time last year, but a dispiriting truth for one of the best who’s ever played the game.
Add in the issues with the flailing running game and injury-plagued offensive line and it doesn’t really matter much that the receivers are still excellent; they won’t be able to do much consistently if the Packers are all over them — and the rest of the offense.
While the matchup undoubtedly has been seen as a quarterback duel between the current-best QB and one of the best ever, the scoreline likely will be subdued by the two excellent defenses. The defense of the Packers has the weaker offense lining up against it (Denver is #32 in Offensive DVOA, #32 in Pass Offense DVOA and #31 Rush Offense) and should take advantage with a strong game, both on the field and in the fantasy forums.
Week 8 Prediction: 13 Points Allowed, 3 Sacks, 2 Forced Turnovers (1 INT, 1 Fumble Recovery); 11.00 fantasy points
Verdict: Ride ‘Em