It’s hard to imagine that two teams that went 6-10 last season would be facing each other in week six of the 2011 season with only one loss between them. But that’s exactly what’s going to happen when the San Francisco 49’ers (4-1, 2-0) face the red hot Detroit Lions (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday in Detroit.
San Francisco v Detroit
Venue/Stadium: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Time/Date: 1:00 PM ET, Sunday, October 16, 2011
NFL Odds From: Bet Online
Spread (ATS): Detroit -4.5
The Lions have come an awfully long way since making NFL history in 2008 as the first team to go the entire regular season without winning a single game. In fact, with four more wins in 2011, Detroit will have won more games this season than they have in the past three seasons combined.
And given the inspired play of players like quarterback Matthew Stafford and running back Calvin Johnson, there’s no reason to think that won’t happen.
Stafford, who replaced Jon Kitna in 2009, has spearheaded the Detroit Renaissance and has already completed 119 of 187 for 1,436 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s playing very disciplined ball and has only thrown four picks all season.
But Stafford and company are not the only team that’s turning heads this season. The 49er’s have surprised plenty of NFL observers by charging to a 4-1 start that’s blemished only by a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas in week 2.
In his sixth season with San Francisco, quarterback Alex Smith seems to finally be finding a groove. He’s playing a well balanced game that’s benefited from a solid corps of both receivers and running backs. Last week the Niners racked up 205 yards passing and 213 yards on the ground while dismantling Tampa Bay 48-3.
Defensively, San Francisco can shut down the run, but they’re not nearly as effective against the pass. They allowed Tony Romo to throw for 427 yards, and Michaell Vick to throw for 405 yards. (The Eagles won that game 24-23.) So you can pretty much count on Stafford to put up a lot of passing yards in this outing.
Between the Tigers and Lions, Detroit is devouring a long overdue smorgasbord of good sporting news and their fans are enthusiastic to say the least. On Monday night, crowd noise at Ford Field caused no end of problems for Jay Cutler and the Chicago Bears and Sunday’s crowd isn’t likely to be much quieter.
That crowd noise is going to force the Niners to rely heavily on running plays. So look for plenty of action from SF running back Frank Gore. Gore has been a little banged up this year, but still has run 94 times for 400 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Given San Francisco’s weak pass defense and the momentum that Detroit brings in this game, this game is going to be all Lions.
Both the Lions and the Niners are 4-0-1 ATS.
Matt’s Prediction: Detroit 34-14