There are a lot of things that will be a factor in the outcome of the Lions and 49ers battle for early NFC supremacy on Sunday night in San Francisco. One thing that isn’t a factor despite the press it is getting, though, is the contrived rivalry between these coaches.
When the two teams met last year Jim Harbaugh got a bit too excited about his win and showed that enthusiasm in his postgame handshake with Detroit’s Jim Schwartz. Schwartz had had a rough day, and he almost lost his mind and started a brawl. It was very strange. It’s also in the past. These guys are pros with a whole lot on their minds, so the only people that matters to are the media and public bettors with too much time on their hands.
While the handshake isn’t relevant, this game certainly is. After their opening effort in Green Bay the Niners are currently seen as the top team in the NFC. One game doesn’t mean much, though, but another convincing win here against a likely playoff squad would really make a statement. For the Lions, a win over a team that so convincingly handled NFC North rivals Green Bay would be a huge psychological boost.
Lions at 49ers Betting Storylines
If Detroit wants to pull off the road upset here then Matthew Stafford just simply has to be much better than he was last week in the opener against St. Louis. His 355 passing yards were fine, but he threw three interceptions, and two of them were pretty ugly. St. Louis is an underrated team, but their defense doesn’t begin to measure up to what the Niners can offer here. The Niners have perhaps the top defense in the league, and they will be able to pressure Stafford consistently without sacrificing pass coverage. The telling matchup will be San Francisco defensive end Jason Smith versus the Detroit line. Last year Smith was completely dominant. He sacked Stafford 1.5 times, hurried him several more, and recorded nine tackles. If the Lions don’t have an answer for Smith then it will be a long day.
Detroit got lucky last week. They lost the turnover battle to the Rams by three, yet they still came out with the win. Turnover margin is a big factor in wins in the NFL, and no team is better at it than the Niners. Their +28 margin last year was the second best in the NFL since 1970, and Alex Smith hasn’t thrown an interception since Thanksgiving. Detroit can’t count on creating a lot of turnovers in this one. If they are as sloppy with the ball as they were last week then they won’t stand a chance.
Calvin Johnson is as important to his team as any non-quarterback in the league. It’s a mild concern, then, that he missed practice on Wednesday with a foot issue. It doesn’t seem to be a major issue, but it’s not ideal, and it is certainly something to keep an eye on as game time nears.
Lions at 49ers NFL Odds and Betting Trends
The game opened up with the home team favored by 6.5 points, according to NFL odds, and can still be found there. It is also widely available at seven in the majority of places, and a couple of spots are even testing out eight. That presents the opportunity of a low-cost middle of the key number of seven if you are so inclined. The public is all over the Niners — about four of five bets have been on them — so there is a solid chance the number will climb. The total opened at 46, and has shown slight movement to 46.5 in some spots.
Detroit has failed to cover the last four times they have been road underdogs. They are just 0-3-1 ATS in their last four games against San Francisco. San Francisco has gone “under” the total in their last four games as home favorite, and the two teams have gone under in their last six meetings, and their last four by the bay.
NFL Predictions: Lions at 49ers Betting Predictions
I picked the Niners to win the Super Bowl before the season started, and nothing I have seen since has made me feel anything other than great about that. Alex Smith has taken a big step forward, there are tools on offense that weren’t there before, and the defense is as stout as ever. Jim Harbaugh has full control of this team, and his players love playing for him. That may end at some point because it usually does, but at this point they are going to be very tough to play against.
Detroit looked sloppy in their opener, and they don’t have the depth or talent to match up to the Niners. Stafford will have a rough day running for his life from the relentless pass rush, while Alex Smith and company will be able to move the ball consistently. The Niners are feeling good right now, and they will flex their muscles here. Right now you can get -7 at better than even money. I’d be all over the Niners at that price.
The total is solid. I would lean towards the under, but not with a lot of enthusiasm.
Doc’s Sports is offering $60 worth of member’s NFL picks absolutely free – no obligation, no sales people – you don’t even have to enter credit card information. You can use this $60 credit any way you please for any NFL handicapper on Doc’s Sports Advisory Board list of expert football handicappers. Click here for more details and take advantage of this free $60 picks credit today.