Detroit Lions Visit NFC Favorite San Francisco 49ers

By: Michael Robinson | Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The San Francisco 49ers are the newly anointed NFC favorite, but have another tough test on the docket when they host the Detroit Lions on Sunday Night Football.

San Fran is between a 6½-7 point favorite with a total of 46. NBC will start the broadcast from Candlestick Park in the Bay Area at 8:20 p.m. (ET).

San Francisco had a hard opening game at Green Bay last Sunday, but clearly was the better team in the 30-22 victory as a 6-point road ‘dog. The big advantage came on the ground with a huge 186-45 margin. That helped win the time of possession (33-27 minutes).

The 49ers (+250) have now replaced Green Bay as the favorite in the NFC future odds. The updated Don Best Linemakers Poll for NFL ratings has not been released yet, but San Francisco certainly should move up from the fourth-place tie shared with Pittsburgh prior to Week 1 action.

Second-year coach Jim Harbaugh knew he had an elite defense and running game heading into the season. The passing game with quarterback Alex Smith was the big question and he was 20-for-26 for 211 yards (125.6 rating) against Green Bay. Having two new receivers in Randy Moss and Mario Manningham should do wonders for his confidence all season.

San Francisco had an incredible season last year, but especially at home (8-2 straight up, 8-1-1 against the spread). The one ATS failure came in the 20-17 loss to the Giants as a 2-point favorite in the NFC title game. That outcome would have been different without two key turnovers.

Detroit had a much tougher time in its opening game, a 27-23 win over St. Louis. The Lions were big 9-point home favorites, but needed two separate fourth-quarter comebacks, the second a game-winning touchdown pass from Matthew Stafford to running back Kevin Smith with five seconds left.

Stafford threw for 355 yards overall, but also had three picks, which won’t cut it in San Francisco. Smith led the running game with 62 yards on 13 carries and Detroit will need offensive balance this week after being 31st in the league last year in rushing attempts.

Coach Jim Schwartz is breathing a sigh of relief, but needs to get his guys focused on playing away. The Lions were 1-4 SU and 0-4-1 ATS in their final five road games last year, including a 45-28 loss to New Orleans in the wild-card playoff round.

Note the ‘over’ was 8-1 in Detroit’s road games last year, allowing 37 PPG in the final five where the competition was extremely tough.

The Lions have some key injuries with cornerbacks Chris Houston (ankle) and Bill Bentley (concussion) both questionable. Safety Louis Delmas (knee) is also out indefinitely. The tailback Smith is starting because Mikel Leshoure (suspension) and Jahvid Best (concussion) are still out.

This is a rematch of the infamous San Francisco comeback win (25-19) in Detroit last October. Harbaugh and Schwartz got into an exchange during the postgame handshake, although both say the issue is well in the past.

That final score snuck ‘under’ the 45-point total and the ‘under’ is 8-0 in the last eight meetings between the teams overall, 6-0 in the last six in San Francisco.

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