The game between the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers is a big deal. Both teams made the playoffs last year and have playoff aspirations this year as well. Need some help with a few things to watch for while the game is being played? I offer these five:
Lions Passing Pocket – The Lions will have to protect Matthew Stafford and give him time to throw if they are to pull off the upset. The 49ers sacked Stafford five times in last year’s meeting and pressured him even more than that in forcing a 28-of-50 passing performance.
Calvin vs. Frank – The Lions and 49ers are two very different offensive teams, each with a primary offensive playmaker. The Lions have wide receiver Calvin Johnson while the 49ers have running back Frank Gore. Gore gained 141 rushing yards against the Lions last year while Johnson had 113 receiving yards against the 49ers defense. Can CJ outgain Gore this year? The winner of this game could be determined by the star who shines the brightest.
Turnovers – It’s no secret that the turnover battle has a dramatic impact on an NFL game. Lions fans need look no further than last week when three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, were the only reason the Rams were able to put a scare into the Lions. Without those interceptions, it would have been a blowout. The 49ers haven’t turned the ball over in their last six regular season games, one more and they’ll tie the 2010 Patriots for the league’s longest stretch of turnover-free games. Alex Smith hasn’t thrown a pick in 185 passes (a franchise best) and Frank Gore hasn’t fumbled in 226 touches (a career high).
Penalties – Like turnovers, the penalty situation can have a dramatic impact on a game. The 49ers were able to beat the Lions last year even after being flagged 15 times for 120 yards. The Lions have had plenty of ups and downs in the penalty department over the past couple seasons. They can afford a “down” performance against a team like the 49ers.
The Handshake – Talk of last year’s postgame handshake between Jim Schwartz and Jim Harbaugh has been an overblown talking point by the mainstream media. That being said, I’ll give it a few words simply because whether or not the coaches complete a handshake or hug after Sunday night’s game is one of this week’s special prop bets on Bovada. Yes pays 1/5, no pays 3/1. If you’re inclined to bet, bet on yes.