Lions at 49ers: Our Best Bets and Top Player Prop Pick for NFC Championship Game
The Detroit Lions head on the road to Santa Clara to take on the San Francisco 49ers this Sunday in the NFC Championship game. The weather will be as good as it gets in the Bay Area, with balmy conditions and a temperature just above 70 degrees.
Weather and Injury Update
Has San Fran Knocked Off the Rust?
I think the 49ers are due for a big rebound as multiple factors influenced the outcome of their victory against the Packers, where at no point did they look like the 10-point favorites they were supposed to be. Firstly, the Niners rested all their starters in Week 18 and then had the bye through the divisional round.
That bit of rust certainly showed in the first half, especially on defense as they allowed long sustained drives for the Packers on all three of their drives. The other side was the weather conditions that this 49ers team is just not used to playing in. Rain is generally not seen to have much impact on NFL games, but the rain in California last week created extremely slippery conditions for the players.
The 49ers players all ended up switching their cleats by halftime in order to combat the conditions. There were multiple key plays, including the Bo Melton touchdown where 49ers defenders slipped, fell down, and created wide-open opportunities against the Packers. Don’t expect that to happen again.
I think the weather also helped continue the narrative that Brock Purdy isn’t a good QB as he looked a bit uncomfortable, especially in the first half of the game. The Kyle Shanahan offense is built to build early leads and sustain them, which has gotten them into trouble in the playoffs before with conservative play calls and an inability to play from behind.
Will Detroit’s Historic Run Continue?
Although the Lions offense as a whole is a step in class up from the Packers, I don’t know that Jared Goff is a huge upgrade over Jordan Love. I have not been a believer in this Lions offense and I think they are in for a rude awakening against a 49ers team that should be operating more efficiently and effectively in this matchup.
The Lions had a somewhat surprising path here, getting a second home game after the Packers took out the Cowboys in the wild-card round. The Lions hosted the Buccaneers and were able to handle them well, as the Lions protected Jared Goff quite well allowing him to throw for 287 yards and two touchdowns.
The 49ers pass rush will be a more difficult task for the Lions who now have some offensive line injuries to contend with. LG Jonah Jackson left last week’s game with a knee injury and it’s not looking like he will go on Sunday. His backup, Kayode Awosika was awful, allowing a pressure on almost half of his snaps played.
Plus, C Frank Ragnow was added to the injury report with a litany of injuries, currently listed as Ankle/Toe/Knee/Back. Ragnow is one of the league’s best and toughest players so while I do expect him to suit up, I can’t imagine he’ll be anywhere near 100%.
Top Player Prop: Jahmyr Gibbs Over 3.5 Receptions
The interior pass rush of the Niners should feast in this game and the Lions don’t have a mobile quarterback who can escape the pocket in Jared Goff. I expect to see a lot of quick passes and outside runs with Jahmyr Gibbs, who was effective against the Bucs but won’t be as effective against the Niners’ elite linebacking group.
The line in this one is sitting at a juiced -7 or -7.5 in some places, after opening at -7 and touching -6.5. At first glance, seven points seemed high for a conference championship game, but the market has bet this one into place given the matchup problems presented.
Best Bet: 49ers -7 (-120) (BetMGM)
I think the 49ers are the right side in this one and I would bet them at -7. If you’re looking at -7.5, I think you’re better suited to wait for game time to see if you can catch a live line at a lower price.
The total in this one is sitting at 51.5, implying a bit of a shootout on Sunday night. I don’t think this is going to be the case as I have a hard time believing that the Lions are going to move the ball as easily as they have against inferior teams while staring down the Niners’ defense.
Best Bet: UNDER 51.5
I disagree with the slight market move up from 50.5 to 51.5 and would back the under here for 1%. Even if the Niners come out firing on offense, I’d expect them to slow it down in the second half and kill the clock, as is Shanahan’s way.
I think the over is correlated with the Lions at this large number. If the Lions stay competitive in this one it won’t be because of their defense, so if you’re interested in the Lions, I’d consider pairing that with the over in what could be a slightly correlated parlay.
Sports Betting Contributor
Max is a seasoned sports analyst from New York who is known for his work on The Noise podcast. He brings a unique perspective on sports betting to the table, one that focuses on a quantitative approach and finding the best price. He can be found on X @max_thenoise