No team in the NFL has been hotter than the Detroit Lions. How many times have you read that sentence? The Lions are 5-0 straight up and 4-0-1 against the spread, including an improbable comeback in Dallas two weeks. Detroit avoided a letdown this past Monday night when they took down the Bears at home. They host the San Francisco 49ers this week, a team nearly as hot as the Lions, in one of the week’s best games.
The Lions opened as 5 point favorites but that’s been taken down to 4 at most sites. The public is backing the Lions at a rate of about 2:1, which means a decent amount of sharp money has come in on San Francisco. I don’t particularly like fading the sharps but it’s hard not to like the Lions with the way they’ve been playing. For a free pick this Sunday, consider backing the home team and laying 4 points.
The Lions have a few injuries worth mentioning. Tight end Tony Scheffler is out with a concussion; linebacker Justin Durant is listed as questionable, along with wide receiver Rashied Davis and safety Amari Spievey. The Niners have some wide receiver injuries. Braylon Edwards is out and Josh Morgan was recently put on IR with an ankle injury. Michael Crabtree and Ted Ginn are both probable for this week’s game.
Regarding the spread, both teams are 4-0-1 this season. Over the past three years, Detroit has been tough in this situation. They’re 12-6 at home, 5-2 as a favorite, 10-3 against teams with a winning record, and 9-2 off a division game. But San Francisco has been good, too. They’re 8-8 on the road, 8-6 as an underdog, 3-1 as a road underdog of 3 ½ to 7 points, and 6-1 in dome games.
I foresee the Niners’ secondary having a lot of problems containing Matthew Stafford, Calvin Johnson, and company. Against Seattle, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay, the Niners have given up fewer than 200 passing yards each time. But the aforementioned teams are not prolific passing teams. Against Dallas and Philadelphia – two teams with capable quarterbacks and great offensive personnel – San Fran has given up more than 400 passing yards each game. Look for the Niners to have a lot of trouble with the Detroit passing attack.
I’m also not sold on the Niners’ offense, either. Frank Gore, when healthy, is a top tier running back. But Alex Smith’s troubles in the NFL have been well documented, and although he’s had a nice season, I don’t mind fading him on the road against a defensive line as good as Detroit’s.
To the Niners’ credit, they’re +10 in turnovers this season. They have yet to give the ball away more than once in a game, and they have 2 or more takeaways in each game. That’s impressive. Detroit needs to take care of the ball in order to cover the spread, but considering how they’ve played this year, I have to imagine they will. Similar to San Francisco, Detroit hasn’t given the ball away more than once in a game all season long; for the year, the Lions are +7. If you’re looking for a reason why these two teams are playing surprisingly well, turnover differential is a good place to start.
Make sure you get all the best plays for the week by signing up for Maddux Sports’ premium pro football picks. But for a free pick this Sunday, consider backing the Lions at home and laying the points. Good luck!