San Francisco 49ers (4-10 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Detroit Lions (5-9 SU, 5-9 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date/Time: 12/27/15 1:00 PM ET
Where: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
by Keith, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: SF +9/DET -9
Over/Under Total: 43
We would never recommend taking a team like Detroit straight upwith nine points against the line, that can be catastrophic. Detroits offense has been anemic at times and their best player Calvin Johnson has been virtually absent in his last three outings, since feasting on Philadelphias ailing secondary for Turkey Day. For many weeks, analysts have highlighted Detroits favorable match-ups and their opportunity to take advantage of weak defenses and yet we have seen them struggle to do even that.
Detroit enters on a high note, pulling off a hard-fought win in New Orleans despite jumping out to a 21-3 lead in the first half. Once again, even against an accommodating defense like New Orleans, the Lions found a way to sputter and stall offensively, resulting in a Saints comeback in the second half at the hand of Drew Brees. The Lions cannot be trusted and with a point spread of over a touchdown, the danger is certainly imminent.
San Francisco is coming in on a low note, once again they suffered an overwhelming loss at home to an Andy Dalton-less Cincinnati Bengals. Many were keen on the 49ers, believing they would cover against a Cincinnati football team entering on a significant defeat to Pittsburgh the week before, playing without their efficient starting quarterback. Regardless, Cincinnati found ways to dominate the contest in spite of their injuries and ran all over the 49ers courtesy of one Jeremy Hill.
Running is something that the Lions cannot do. The Lions have featured four different running backs over the span of the 2015-16 season: Theo Riddick, Ameer Abdullah, Joique Bell and Zach Renner. Despite their attempts to find a true lead rusher, none have taken the reigns and their leading rusher, Abdullah has just 514 yards on the ground. While we do cite the fact that San Franciscos defense is among the worst in the league, they will actually have a decent shot at putting up reputable numbers against this inconsistent Detroit Lions offense.
Calvin Johnson is the heart and the soul of the Lions offense. Detroit may feature a cornucopia of talent around him in Golden Tate, Brian Broyles and Matthew Stafford but it is all for nothing when Megatron is not performing to his best. Johnson is often regarded as the best pure wide receiver in the NFL and this is without question. However, as of late Johnson has struggled mightily and when he hasso have the Lions. The ultimate variable in this affair is Megatrons performance, his health is consistently in question even though he is a gallant player that often plays through pain. With Detroits post-season hopes all but ended, there is question as to whether Megatron will even be available for this game. We suppose he will, but the frequent use of questionable tags leaves the door open for the prospect of his absence, we will never back Detroit with points against if he is not available or playing at his best.
In spite of last weeks result, it is without question that the 49ers are getting better each week. Quarterback Blaine Gabbert is maturing in to a true NFL starting quarterback and he has rekindled the fire of aging veteran wide-out Anquan Boldin. Boldin showed glimmers of his glory days last week, going for 74 yards on 8 receptions while picking up a touchdown in the process. Needless to say, it was certainly a FanDuel friendly day for Anquan. With respect to this, the 49ers have another weapon in Torrey Smith. Smith as a secondary receiving option is a lethal prospect. As we have seen in his numerous years in Baltimore under Joe Flacco, Smith can be dangerous when he gets behind defenders with his blazing speed. The key has always been delivering the ball to both him and Boldin, Gabbert can do that. With this being said, we wouldnt be surprised if an upset was pulled outright. However, the safer bet is to take the Niners with the points against a Detroit defense that is more the capable of giving up points gratuitously. The Lions rank among the worst in the league in scoring defense, surrendering 28 points per game on average. Given the recent developments of the 49ers offense, we like the upside heretake San Francisco.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: San Francisco +9.