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NFL forecast: Jimmy G, Niners defense will bust Broncos

When Tom Cruise’s title character was fired in the movie “Jerry Maguire,” his fiancee told him, “You are not a loser.” He replied incredulously, “Who said anything about loser?”

Jimmy Garoppolo can relate.

Call the 49ers quarterback what you want. But don’t call him a loser.

Garoppolo has a 37-16 career record as a starter and ranks fourth among active QBs in winning percentage (.698) behind only Patrick Mahomes (.789, 60-16), Tom Brady (.767, 280-85) and Lamar Jackson (.709, 39-16).

Despite his success, San Francisco named Trey Lance the starter this season and tried to trade Garoppolo before bringing him back.

It turned out to be a wise move. Lance suffered a season-ending ankle injury early in Sunday’s game against Seattle, and Garoppolo replaced him en route to a 27-7 victory.

The Niners opened as 3-point underdogs at Denver before flipping to 1½-point favorites. There were great expectations for the Broncos before the season started after they acquired quarterback Russell Wilson, who has a .651 career winning percentage (114-61-1) and a Super Bowl title.

But Denver has been unimpressive under first-year coach Nathaniel Hackett in a 17-16 loss to the Seahawks and 16-9 comeback win over the Texans.

“The guy looks like a deer in headlights,” Westgate SuperBook oddsmaker Ed Salmons said of Hackett, the former Packers offensive coordinator.

The Broncos will eventually get it together. But I’ll back Jimmy G and San Francisco’s stout defense to get the win on Sunday night.

Four more plays (home team in CAPS):

Rams (-3½) over CARDINALS: Sean McVay has owned Arizona, winning and covering 10 of 11 meetings since becoming Los Angeles’ coach in 2017. He’s 6-1 ATS vs. Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury. Arizona was outscored 67-28 in the first seven quarters this season by the Chiefs and Raiders before scoring 22 unanswered points in a 29-23 overtime win over the Raiders last week. The defending Super Bowl champion Rams will be ready after almost blowing a 28-3 lead in a 31-27 victory over Atlanta.

PATRIOTS (+3) over Ravens: Baltimore is last in the league in total defense, allowing 463.5 yards per game, and 24th in scoring defense, allowing 25.5 points per game. New England is fourth in total defense (275 ypg allowed) and eighth in scoring defense (17.0 ppg allowed). Patriots coach Bill Belichick is 15-5 ATS (75 percent) as a home underdog and 51-27-1 ATS (65.3 percent) as an underdog overall in New England. He’s also 6-1 ATS vs. Ravens coach John Harbaugh in the regular season.

SEAHAWKS (-1) over Falcons: No Russell Wilson, no problem for Pete Carroll. The Seattle coach is 15-4 ATS in the last 19 games without Wilson. Seahawks QB Geno Smith is 9-1 ATS in his past 10 starts, including a win and cover over Wilson and the Broncos in the season opener in Seattle. The Seahawks still have a strong home field advantage, and the Falcons are playing their second consecutive road game on the West Coast.

Saints (-2½) over PANTHERS: Carolina has lost and failed to cover nine straight games and 14 of its last 16. Enough said.

Last week: 3-2

Season: 6-4

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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