Both the 49ers and the Lions won their regualr seaon openers, although in differing fashions. Will the Niners pull a repeat performance of last season's victory over Detroit at Ford Field? Or will the Lions and Coach Schwartz exact a little revenge? And which way are we leaning for on this game?
San Francisco opened its season last Sunday with an
impressive 30-22 victory over the Packers in Green Bay. San Fran led from the
outset, slowly built a lead and staved off the Packers comeback attempt.
San Francisco ran for 186 yards Sunday and held Green Bay to
just 45 yards on the ground, 27 of which
came on scrambles by QB Aaron Rodgers.
The 49ers defense really only gave up one touchdown to the
Packers when the outcome was still in doubt. Green Bay's second touchdown
came on a questionably-legal punt return, and its third score came with six
minutes to go when the Niners were up by 15 points and just trying to make the
Packers use up some clock.
San Fran won outright as a six-point dog Sunday, and that
game played OVER its total of 46.5 when the Niners allowed the Packers to
score that catch-up touchdown late.
Detroit, meanwhile, struggled last week against one of the
supposedly weaker sisters of the league. The Lions trailed by scores of 3-0, 13-7, 20-13 and 23-20, but in the
clutch QB Matt Stafford, who had thrown three interceptions in the first half,
led an 80-yard drive to the game-winning score, a short pass to RB Kevin Smith,
with ten seconds left for a 27-23 victory.
The Lions outgained the Rams 429-250, but never came close
to covering the spread as nine-point favorites.
That game also played OVER its total of 46, but not until
Detroit scored that last touchdown in the final seconds.
Handshake Bowl, Round
These teams met last season, in October at Ford Field, in a
game the Niners won 25-19 on a late Alex Smith touchdown pass to Delanie
Walker. San Fran outrushed Detroit that day 203-66 and won outright as
five-point underdogs. But what we remember most about this bout occurred after
the game, when Coach Harbaugh slapped Coach Schwartz on the back while yelling
something, supposedly rather choice. Schwartz took offense, and we darned near
had the first coach vs. coach blows-thrown fight, at least at the NFL level and
to our memory, since Buddy Ryan took a swipe at his own offensive coordinator,
Kevin Gilbride, almost 20 years ago.
Earlier this week most NFL odds makers opened this game
with San Francisco favored by seven points, the OVER/UNDER pegged at 46. And
into Thursday those numbers had held steady.
Those out there who like the Niners but don't want to give
the points can get San Fran at around -330 on the moneyline, while those who
think the Lions might be able to pull the upset can get Detroit at a variety of sportsbooks at around +270
to win this game outright.
Coach Schwartz might be respectful when talking about Coach
Harbaugh in public, but you can bet your ass he'd absolutely love to beat the
Niners Sunday night, and maybe rub it in a little afterward. But unless the
Lions can contain the Niners running game, and generate a little ground game of
their own, they'll have a tough time. And Detroit cannot turn the ball over
(are you listening, Mr. Stafford?), because San Fran probably won't; the Niners
have gone more than six full games without committing a turnover.
Our early take on
this game is that the Niners should be able to run the ball on the Lions, and
keep all-world WR Calvin Johnson in check. So San Fran -7 sounds good
. And with
Detroit as one-dimensional on offense as it is, and the Niners defense as great
as it is, we're also leaning toward the UNDER on the total.