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NFL Preseason Week 3 Predictions and Preview:  San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos & Arizona Cardinals vs. Oakland Raiders

NFL Preseason Week 3 Predictions and Preview: San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos & Arizona Cardinals vs. Oakland Raiders

There’s no shortage of NFL action now as the preseason continues to roll along, and we’ve got a pair of interesting inter-divisional matchups out West in Week 3.

The San Francisco 49ers lineup may be tattered and bruised, but rest assure that they’ll put up a good fight in Mile High when they visit the Denver Broncos this Saturday. On Sunday, the Arizona Cardinals travel to Oakland to take on the Raiders.

Read on as we tackle these two intriguing matches. For more preseason coverage, check out our preview for Pittsburgh vs. Buffalo and Philadelphia vs. Green Bay.

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San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos

Where: Mile High Stadium, Denver

When: Saturday, August 29, 2015 9:00 PM ET

Line: San Francisco 49ers vs. Denver Broncos view all NFL lines

Peyton Manning’s 2015 preseason debut was rather underwhelming, but the Denver Broncos need not worry about their star quarterback’s performance in a game that has no true consequences. The 39-year old future Hall-of-Famer went 8-of-14 for 52 yards in a little over a quarter of work against the Houston Texans on Saturday.

[sc:NFL240banner ]Manning’s subpar effort was actually a blessing in disguise, as his backup Brock Osweiler continues to make nice strides this postseason. Osweiler threw a 57-yard pass to Andre Caldwell and finished the game with 121 yards on 7-of-16 passing. He did, however, throw a pick-six to Texans linebacker Kourtnei Brown.

Denver’s defense also got a boost from the return of outside linebacker Brandon Marshall. Marshall, who had surgery on his right foot in March, had three tackles and a couple of passes well-defended on Saturday. He was the Broncos’ leader in tackles (133) last season.

Over in San Francisco, the 49ers keep getting unlikely production from their unheralded players. Former rugby star Jarryd Hayne continues to turn heads, getting it done both on offense and on special teams. Hayne rushed for 45 yards on six carries in the first half of the Niners’ victory over the Dallas Cowboys this past Sunday. The former Parramatta Eel also inadvertently shows off in his returns, preferring to receive punts with over-the-shoulder catches for some solid gains.

The Niners defense also got a breakout play from practice squad nose tackle Mike Purcell, who returned a second quarter interception for a 37-yard touchdown. San Francisco’s front seven needs all the able bodies it could get after several key players were lost during the offseason, and Purcell may have made a name for himself with that spectacular pick-six. He’ll have to put on more good outings for the remainder of the preseason to bolster his odds of making the cut before the start of Week 1 of the regular season.

Writer’s Prediction

San Francisco wins a close one in Denver, 18-15.

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Arizona Cardinals vs. Oakland Raiders

Where: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland

When: Sunday, August 30, 2015 8:00 PM ET

Line: Arizona Cardinals vs. Oakland Raiders – view all NFL lines

The Arizona Cardinals squandered an early first half lead this past Saturday to the San Diego Chargers and have yet to win a postseason game. Nevertheless, getting quarterback Carson Palmer into the heat of battle is what’s important to the team.

Palmer overthrew a pass to rookie wide receiver J.J. Nelson, but the 23-year old turned on his jets and made a dazzling catch for a 57-yard gain. Palmer finished his lone opening drive by going 3-for-7 for 88 yards and a 17-yard touchdown pass to second-year wideout John Brown. The takeaway from Week 2’s match has got to be that Palmer may have found some nice, viable weapons that he can rely on come Week 1 of the regular season.

However, the Cards’ O-line depth has got to be a concern. The unit allowed six sacks on Saturday, two that were absorbed by Palmer and four by his backup Drew Stanton.

Meanwhile, the Oakland Raiders looked like the rough-and-tumble group that shoots itself in the foot once more this past weekend. The Raiders got called for 13 flags that amounted to a loss of 106 yards en route to their 20-12 loss at the hands of the Minnesota Vikings.

The highlight for Oakland in that match would have to be the one-two punch of quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper that was on full display, even for just one spectacular play. Carr connected with Cooper on a beautiful 40-yard pass in the first quarter. The chemistry between the two is working out nicely so far, so expect Oakland’s passing game in the regular season to be a threat, especially when both Carr and Cooper get it going.

The Raiders may have determined who their feature back is as well, and that’ll likely be Latavius Murray. Murray was efficient in his only drive on Saturday, gaining 20 yards on four carries. He’ll need to get his motor ready come Week 1 of the regular season to take some pressure off of Carr and Oakland’s aerial assault.

Writer’s Prediction

Oakland hands Arizona its third loss of the preseason, 21-14.

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Written by Mark

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