The San Francisco 49ers looked like legitimate Super Bowl contenders with an improved offense while winning in Green Bay last week, which is no easy feat, while the Lions needed a late rally to beat the lowly Rams in a non-covering 27-23 win.
Before knee-jerking to the 49ers with both fists though, consider that Lions Coach Jim Schwartz was an assistant under Rams Coach Jeff Fisher for eight years at Tennessee, so the Rams had a good idea for what the Lions were going to do. Also remember that the Lions are playing with revenge after last year’s “handshake” game. The 49ers are -6½ with a total of 46.
1. Why Detroit will cover the spread: The Lions will cover the spread if the sometimes shaky Detroit offensive line can hold off the lethal San Francisco defensive line just long enough for Matthew Stafford to get the ball downfield. Look, realistically, Stafford will not have much time to throw no matter what against the 49ers’ pass rush, but he does have a quick release and a bevy of receiving options, especially if Titus Young could stop committing dumb personal fouls and stay out of Schwartz’s doghouse for one game. All that should be needed is that extra split second to release the ball, which seems doable. Of course it would help if Detroit can run a little, but that’s not going to happen. Then again, Aaron Rodgers did pass for 303 yards against the Niners even with San Francisco knowing the Packers were going to throw every down, so Stafford throwing 50 passes may not be a bad thing.
2. Why San Francisco will cover the spread: The 49ers will cover the spread if quarterback Alex Smith can match his near flawless performance in Lambeau where he completed 20-of-26 passes for 211 yards. If he does that, then Frank Gore and the running game will succeed again as a by-product, and the 49ers’ offense will look like the Patriots again. Of course, a major upgrade to the wide receiver corps over last year is a big help. Another key that would help allow Smith to be successful is the San Francisco offensive line holding off the Detroit front four, as the Lions recorded four sacks vs. the Rams, with amazingly Ndamukong Suh, Corey Williams, Nick Fairley and Cliff Avril each getting one.
3. Total Talk: As great as both of these defensive lines are, we actually like the ‘over’ quite a bit in this game. We have all the respect in the world for the San Francisco defense, but we think that Stafford’s quick releases will pay dividends in the form of points, and we would like the ‘over’ more so if the Lions employ three-receiver sets and/or empty backfields. On the other side, the Detroit defensive line is deep and can rush the passer from any direction, but the back seven is lacking.
4. Betting Trends for the game: The 49ers are now 3-0-1 ATS in the last four head-to-head meetings following last year’s upset in Detroit and the ‘under’ is 6-0 in the last six encounters. We are looking to buck both those trends however this week.
San Francisco 27 – Detroit 23