Broncos Will Beat Rams, Then Decide Quarterback Winner In NFLX Week 3

Matthew Jordan

Wednesday, August 24, 2016 7:53 PM UTC

Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2016 7:53 PM UTC

Both the Rams and Broncos entered training camp with no official starting quarterback set. Our capper analyzes how this factors in for Saturday's game and provides his NFL pick.

Rams: What To Watch For
The Rams played before large, raucous crowds in their first two games in the NFL's return to Los Angeles but won't be back at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum until Week 2 of the regular season vs. Seattle. That might be a good thing as the turf at the Coliseum was criticized so now the NFL has time to install new grass. The Rams came from behind to beat Dallas 28-24 in the first game and then rallied to beat Kansas City 21-20 last week. Reigning NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Todd Gurley had four carries for 20 yards and a touchdown vs. K.C. in his preseason debut.

But let's get to the quarterbacks. It's looking like a near certainty that veteran journeyman Case Keenum will start Week 1 in San Francisco just like he did in Week 17 last year there. Jared Goff, the No. 1 overall pick in this year's draft, has looked raw and not ready yet. Not only has he been outplayed by Keenum but also by 2015 third-round pick Sean Mannion, who is 18-for-25 for 147 yards with three touchdown passes in the preseason. Keenum reportedly will start vs. Denver and Mannion will be next off the bench. Still, you could see Goff -- who is 12-for-21 for 120 yards with a TD, pick and three sacks in the preseason -- play the majority of the second half, but he could well open the season at No. 3 on the depth chart.

While most coaches like to play their starters for the first full half in a team's second-to-last preseason game, I highly doubt you see Gurley that long as Coach Jeff Fisher doesn't want the guy hit at all and he's clearly the most important player on the offense. If you saw this week's episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks," Fisher could be heard saying Gurley should be treated like "a freaking quarterback" in terms of no contact.

The Rams should have a very good front seven on defense, but that secondary has left much to be desired this preseason. The two starting QBs the Rams have faced, the Cowboys' Dak Prescott (a fourth-round rookie) and Chiefs' Alex Smith (he's middle of the pack at best in the NFL), have combined to go 19-for-24 for 276 yards and three touchdowns without throwing an interception and  rating of 154.1 that's almost perfect.

Los Angeles is 1-1 ATS on NFL odds this preseason and 2-0 O/U.


Broncos: What To Watch For
Denver opened the preseason with a 22-0 win in Chicago, a game that veteran Mark Sanchez started at quarterback. Last Saturday, the Broncos lost 31-24 at home to San Francisco, a game that second-year Trevor Siemian started at quarterback. I think nearly everyone expected Sanchez  to win Denver's job, but it's Siemian, the former seventh-round pick from Northwestern, who will start Saturday and that pretty much says it all.

Last week, Siemian was 10-for-14 for 75 yards and led a touchdown drive but also threw a pick-six. Sanchez was 10-for-17 for 120 yards but lost two fumbles. The best QB in that game was rookie Paxton Lynch, who was 15-for-26 for 113 yards, two scores, and a pick. So far in the preseason, no team has thrown more passes than the Broncos’ 89.

There's no question that Sanchez has fallen behind Siemian on the depth chart. The question is whether Sanchez is even the No. 2. The Broncos would owe a conditional draft pick to the Eagles after trading for Sanchez this offseason if he makes the team, but Denver would owe Philly nothing if he's released while also saving the team $3.5 million. I find it hard to believe that Sanchez isn't kept simply because of his experience.

Coach Gary Kubiak says all three guys will play against the Rams and that he will make a final QB decision next week. Kubiak has not decided whether Sanchez or Lynch would immediately follow Siemian.

Meanwhile, this should be the preseason debut of top Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib.  He shot himself this offseason but is fully recovered from that and has been practicing. He still might face suspension in the regular season from the NFL. Linebacker DeMarcus Ware has finally resumed practicing off a back injury but he won't play.

The Broncos are 1-1 ATS on NFL picks in the preseason and 1-1 O/U.


Shop For Live Odds For Los Angeles Rams vs Denver Broncos


Series History
Denver leads the all-time preseason series 8-2. They last met in the third preseason game in 2013 in the Mile High City and the Broncos won 27-26. The Rams led 20-10 at halftime. Guy named Peyton Manning completed 25 of 34 passes for 234 yards in the first half for Denver. The last regular-season meeting was Week 11 in 2014 and the Broncos were surprised in St. Louis 22-7. Shaun Hill was the Rams' starting QB that day and threw for 220 yards and a score, while Tre Mason ran for 113 yards. Manning threw for 389 yards with a TD but two picks. Demaryius Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders each had at least 100 yards receiving.

Take Denver and the 'under.' It's the Rams' first road game, in tough thin air conditions,  and they aren't going to rally in the second half this week. 


NFL Free Picks: Denver -210
Best Line Offered: at TheGreek 

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NFL Free Pick: Under 42 (-110)
Best Line Offered: at Heritage

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