One game,one winner and one highly-anticipated handshake await us this Sunday as the Detroit Lions head west to face the San Francisco 49ers.
(Matt Stafford via www.theoaklandpress.com )
The Detroit Lions are led by quarterback Matt Stafford and wide receiver Calvin Johnson. Stafford was pretty careless with the football last week(3 interceptions), but he was also clutch in throwing the winning touchdown toss to running back Kevin Smith. This week, Stafford must definitely be more careful with the football this week because he is facing one of the best defenses in the NFL. When the strong-armed quarterback is to take some chances, you better believe he will be looking for Johnson aka Megatron. This big wide receiver is a beast and even though he is playing against an excellent defense, he is a mismatch against every defense in the NFL. Megatron must be involved heavily in the game because the Lions have not been the most successful team running the football. I expect the Lions to attempt to run the football, but the biggest effect Kevin Smith will have on the game will be to contribute in the passing game and to pick up blitzes. One thing that is going to be hard for the Lions to do is identify who is coming and who isn’t. The 49ers defense, led by inside linebackers Patrick Willis and Navarro Bowman, are excellent at not tipping their hand defensively and will no doubt cause some issues for the Lions offensive line. Besides the disguising of defensive pressure for the 49ers, the 49ers secondary must be airtight and not let the other Lions receivers like Titus Young and Nate Burleson get loose. If those other guys get started, then the 49ers defense could have some problems.
(Alex Smith via www.examiner.com )
Alex Smith had an excellent week against the porous Packers defense last week, completing 20 or 26 passes for two touchdowns. Well, this week, he has to stare down the Detroit Lions and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. The best way that the 49ers can slow down the pass rush of the Lions will be to use the running game. Expect running backs Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter to get plenty of work while the 49ers mix in the passing game. When the running game starts wearing on the 49ers, expect them to use that threat to set up big plays for wide receivers Randy Moss and Michael Crabtree along with tight end Vernon Davis. The Lions’ biggest weakness is their secondary, so I expect that there will be some big plays allowed by them. The best thing that could happen for the Lions is for them to get out to a quick lead and hope that the 49ers abandon the run game. A player to watch on the Lions defense will be linebacker Stephen Tulloch. The speedy linebacker can cover in the pass game and can also play the run game well. If he is able to have an effect on the game and slow the 49ers running game, then the game falls on the shoulders of Alex Smith.
The Lions will come out and play hard but in the end, their weakness(no running game and a weak secondary) will be their undoing. Eventually, the 49ers will force their will upon them and pull away from the Lions. Then we can all get our popcorn ready for the postgame handshake.
(picture via www.detroitnews.com )
Prediction: San Francisco 31, Detroit 20