Detroit Lions vs. San Francisco 49ers Expert Pick – January 28, 2024
DETROIT LIONS VS. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS EXPERT PICK – JANUARY 28, 2024 – The NFC Championship game between the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers features one franchise hoping for a return to glory and the other looking to start their own legacy.
The 49ers own five Lombardi Trophies but haven’t won a title in 29 years, while the Lions have never played in the Super Bowl. After two home playoff wins the Lions face a tough challenge on the road at Levi’s Stadium.
Both teams are constructed to mirror the personalities of their head coaches. The Lions under Dan Campbell are tough, smart, and fearless. Battle tested after two home playoff wins, this group is a mix of young talent and resilient veterans led by quarterback Jared Goff.
The 49ers with Kyle Shanahan are calculated, concise, and prepared. Brock Purdy has been poised when facing adversity this year leading his team to a comeback victory over the Green Bay Packers last week. The team is loaded with talent and must find a way to the Super Bowl after losing the last two NFC Championships.
When: Sunday, January 28, 2024, at 6:30 PM ET
Where: Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, CA
(14-5 SU, 13-6 ATS)
San Francisco 49’ers
(13-5 SU, 9-9 ATS)
Odds by DraftKings as of Saturday, January 27th, 2024
How the Lions Win
The Lions must run the ball to control the tempo of the game and keep the 49’ers explosive offense on the sidelines. Running backs David Montgomery (1,015 yards) and OROY candidate rookie Jahmyr Gibbs (945 yards) have combined for 23 total touchdowns. The 49ers aren’t as dominant against the run, giving up 4.1 yards per carry this season as opposed to 3.4 last year.
“The Lions, regardless of who they play, they stick with the run,” 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said. “They do it every game. It’s a big part of what they do. They’re very balanced. I think they’re very similar to our offense.”
Establishing the rushing attack is key as Goff led the league in play-action from under center throwing for 1,258 yards and seven touchdowns.
Detroit must minimize the chunk pass plays as they led the league in pass plays allowed over 20 yards. It’s been worse in the playoffs with 13 such plays in two games. The Lions are effective against the run having the second-best run defense in the league. They will have their work cut out for them facing the great Christian McCaffrey who finished most in rushes of 10 or more yards (44).
How the 49ers win
The 49ers must stop the run to eliminate the play-action pass and make Goff beat you with his arm. With San Francisco giving up numerous explosive plays to the Green Packers expect to see the Lions test their secondary with the likes of receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown and tight end Sam LaPorta. The offense led the league in yards on first-down (5.1) and will unleash McCaffrey to keep this trend going.
“Stop the run. You’ve got to stop the run,” Campbell said. “Because if you don’t, they’ll rush for 250 (yards) on you and they won’t even worry about passing.”
This won’t be easy as Deebo Samuel returns this week from injury and is always a threat in the screen game and stretching the field horizontally. Shanahan has a lot at stake as his teams have underperformed consistently in high stakes games. He must be aggressive even if the game gets close.
The performance by the 49’ers last week should give bettors pause when looking at the odds this week. San Francisco is 9-9 against-the-spread this year while boasting a 13-5 record.
The Lions seem to be playing with house money and are away from the friendly confines of Ford Field. It just seems to be the 49ers time as they play in their third straight NFC Championship game. My heart is with the Detroit Lions, which means the 49ers win this game 31-23 and head to the Super Bowl.