Prediction: Broncos defeat 49ers


ENGLEWOOD, Colo. -- Go out on a limb and say Peyton Manning will throw at least three touchdown passes Sunday night, because, well, this season he always seems to throw three touchdown passes.

The Denver Broncos (4-1) have played five times, Manning has thrown at least three touchdown passes in four of those games. In 37 career starts with Denver, he's now thrown for at least three touchdowns in 24 of those games -- that would be 64.9 percent of the time.

It matters because Manning needs two touchdown passes to tie Brett Favre's all-time NFL mark of 508 career touchdown passes and three to break it.

But the San Francisco 49ers (4-2), despite all form of injuries and other off-the-field drama in their defense, haven’t allowed a 300-yard passing game this season. In fact only one opposing quarterback, the Cowboys’ Tony Romo, has thrown for more than 244 yards and the 49ers intercepted him three times.

The Bears’ Jay Cutler threw for four touchdowns in Chicago’s Week 2 win, but no other quarterback has thrown for more than two against San Francisco, a list that includes Romo, Nick Foles and Alex Smith.

The Broncos have been unsteady in pass protection at times, but Manning has muted that issue some by getting the ball out quickly and the Broncos have plenty of targets to challenge the 49ers defensive backs.

So if the Broncos defense can consistently keep 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick bottled up and give the ball back to the Broncos’ offense and the Broncos protect Manning better than they did last Sunday in MetLife Stadium -- he was sacked twice by the Jets with a three-man rush -- it should be a record-breaking day.

My prediction: Broncos 30, 49ers 20.