San Francisco 49ers @ Detroit Lions is this week’s spotlight game, in a week with at least 8 other matchups we could have chosen. To think in Weeks 1 and 2 when we covered both these teams, we did so to lay down the gauntlet and they both responded. In Week 1 the Lions won and have maintained that pace - currently at 5-0. In Week 2, though the 49ers lost, the result was a Push (at 3 points) and similar to the Detroit Lions, they sit atop their division (with a 4-1 record).
This week’s game means the same thing to both teams, in that, any misstep, doubt could creep in and give their closest division competitor a chance to wrest control out of their hands. This is more of a concern for the Lions because the defending Super Bowl Champions – the Green Bay Packers – are also 5-0. The two teams will play 2 times, and if they should split, then the overall record and record within the conference will be the key factors in which team is crowned.
For the 49ers, they have a two-game division lead over the Seattle Seahawks. As we stated before, the NFC West will only send one team to the playoffs. Avoid any sort of losing streak, a playoff slot is theirs. A win against the Lions (pretty much) guarantees the 49ers, a 10-win season; within the NFC West, that is a playoff lock. A loss will tilt them to 9 wins or less, something the Seahawks could achieve.
The two teams are evenly matched in output: Scoring PPG (Lions 31.8; 49ers 28.4), and Defense (Points Against – Lions 17.8; 49ers 15.6). The difference is how each team goes about scoring. For the Detroit Lions, it’s an all-out air assault that has them Top 10 in Attempts, Completions, Percentage, Yardage and TDs (#3).
The Lions are doing this behind the arm and on the shoulders of QuarterBack Matthew Stafford who is just 13 yards shy of 300 per game, and has a 3:1 TD/INT ratio.
Contrast this with the 49ers who are winning because of their Rushing defense and offense. They have relegated QuarterBack Alex Smith to a ball-control, manager type. Smith is ranked 29th out of NFL QB’s in Attempts (126) and YPG (193). He’s more prone to take the Sack (14) than throw an INT (1). So, how are the 49ers producing offense? Answer: Frank Gore (80 YPG) and Kendall Hunter (27 YGG).
As a team, the 49ers are ranked 7th in Rushing Attempts and 32nd in Passing Attempts. They take this imbalanced offense into Detroit to face a Lions team that is balanced on defense. Their Pass defense is superior to their Rush defense, and it is tested the most by opponents. Though the Lions Rusing defense gives up a lot of yards per game and per carry, they’ve only given up 1 TD all season.
NFL PICKS Week 6
49ers (+4) Under (46) – Comparison of common opponent as well as the quality of opponents; the Lions are coming off a Monday Night Football appearance; and that extra point where a Field Goal doesn’t do it ATS (against the spread).
10/16 1:00 ET At Detroit -4 San Francisco 46
http://www.footballlocks.com/nfl_lines.shtml @10/15/11 @ 10:00pm