Sunday Night Football for Week 2 is upon us, and again the NFL spoils fans with a premier match-up filled with storylines both on and off the field. The Detroit Lions will travel to San Francisco in a much-anticipated rematch from last season. Of course, that game isn’t remembered for the on-field result, as much as it’s known for what occurred after when a tussle broke out between head coaches Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh. Their infamous altercation at the post-game handshake will certainly garner much attention in the build-up to this contest, but won’t diminish the importance of an always key NFC clash.
Detroit travels to California with a heavily depleted secondary. This team can put up points with great ease, but their defensive deficiencies remain well-documented. Last week, Detroit struggled to put away a very mediocre Rams squad in their home opener, and a similar performance against the powerful 49ers on Sunday Night, won’t be acceptable. Detroit quarterback Matthew Stafford wasn’t his usual self against St. Louis, throwing three interceptions. Against a 49ers defense that thrives on making life miserable for quarterbacks, Stafford will need ample protection to get his prolific attack rolling.
San Francisco meanwhile silenced their many doubters in the football world as they stormed into Lambeau Field and knocked off the favoured Packers. The Niners bullied Green Bay at the line of scrimmage, and played a powerful game on both sides of the football en route to a convincing victory in one of football’s toughest road venues. Now they travel across the country for their home opener in a match-up pitting one of the sport’s best offenses, against their feared defense. This should be a good one.
Lions vs. 49ers Spread and Betting Odds:
Detroit Lions +7 (-120)
@ San Francisco 49ers -7 (+100)
Over 46 (-110)
Under 46 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Lions vs. 49ers Pick:
Despite the hoopla surrounding this game, it remains a pivotal clash for both sides and one which could have post-season implications come December. Most pundits predicted San Francisco would learn a lesson in regression this season, but those claims have quickly evaporated following their impressive Week 1 showing. Alex Smith is finally looking like a capable NFL quarterback, as the former Utah product was efficient against the Packers going 20 of 26 for 211 yards and two touchdowns. Though Green Bay’s secondary appeared in disarray throughout that match, Detroit’s pass defense is unquestionably the worst in the league at the moment and the Niners will exploit this with ease.
Detroit enters this game again without key secondary personnel in Chris Houston and Louis Delmas. They’re using a mediocre collection of defensive backs to fill in as a result, and against a San Francisco squad with a revamped aerial attack, the Lions will be primed for conceding points on Sunday evening. The new and improved Alex Smith seems to be living up to his first overall draft selection back in 2005, and he hasn’t thrown an interception since last Thanksgiving, a trend spanning eight games. Smith is blessed to have Vernon Davis, Randy Moss, Mario Manningam, and Michael Crabtree all at his disposal, and the Lions simply won’t have an answer for a now potent 49ers’ attack. This team put up thirty on the Packers last week, and against the Lions don’t be stunned if that numbers gets even higher.
On the other side of the ball, the Niners present the most feared defense in the entire NFL, but one that will still have its difficulties in containing Detroit. The Lions are blessed with weapons at all the skill positions, and are too good with the football to merely allow this game to be a romp. Detroit is at their best when the Stafford-to-Johnson connection is rolling, and it will have to be against the 49ers. San Francisco is adept at shutting down the run, and since Detroit doesn’t have much of a ground game, look for Stafford to air it out with regularity. In last season’s game between these two teams, Stafford put up 293 yards through the air and should improve on that number on Sunday with the emergence of Titus Young and Brandon Pettigrew. Lastly, for all the talk about the Niners’ vaunted defense, their pass defense was only 16th in 2011 and is clearly the weak link of that unit. Stafford will be better, and should put enough points up to keep his team in the game.
Expect an abundance of points on Sunday evening. The Lions will likely be forced exclusively to the air, and with all their weapons should find some level of success. Meanwhile, the Niners aren’t just explosive on defense, they’re an efficient bunch that should put up a huge total on a Lions squad reeling in their secondary. It seems as if markets have yet to react to the effectiveness of Alex Smith quarterbacking this offense, but he’s worked great in Harbaugh’s system and it’s time for bettors to take note.
The total in this contest is currently hovering around 46, and with the Niners likely well-positioned to at least get 30 of those, look for a capable Lions side to make up the remainder in what promises to be a Sunday night shootout. Look for Detroit to keep things tight against a San Francisco side that may still be thinking about their huge victory against Green Bay last week. However, unfortunately for the Lions Smith and his Niners should respond with ease. Smith has only recorded two 300-yard passing games in his career, but a third could be on the horizon for Sunday evening. Take the Over 46 on Sunday Night Football.
PICK = Over 46 (-110)