- The 49ers are 7-point home favorites against the Lions.
- The 49ers match a few historically profitable conference championship trends.
- Can the Lions defense hang tough against the 49ers passing game?
Ahead of Sunday’s NFC Championship in San Francisco, I’m here to offer a 49ers vs. Lions prediction.
The 49ers escaped from the divisional round following a nervy performance. However, some of that can be attributed to Deebo Samuel’s early departure.
Ultimately, the 49ers won 24-21 against the Packers and now face the Lions, who won and covered as home favorites against the Buccaneers.
Here’s a look at NFL betting lines for Sunday’s game, along with my bets for the contest.
49ers vs. Lions Betting Odds
- San Francisco 49ers Moneyline: -300
- Detroit Lions Moneyline: +240
- Game Spread: San Francisco 49ers -7
- Game Total: 52 Points
49ers vs. Lions Betting Predictions
49ers Team Total Over 29.5 Points (-115)
The more I think about this game, the more I worry about the Lions defense.
Although Detroit has held 11 straight opponents under this number, the 49ers have shown they can dominate teams who struggle against the pass.
Since coming out of their bye week, the 49ers are first in EPA per play, second in passing success rate and second in passing EPA per play.
Over that same span, the Lions are 27th in EPA per play and 29th in passing EPA per play allowed.
Even if you sample the entire season, bettors will find the Lions rank 27th in EPA per play against the pass.
Bettors have a decent sample size of what the 49ers look like against bad pass defenses.
Since their bye week, San Francisco played five games against teams who ranked 27th or worse in passing EPA per play for the season.
In those games, they cleared this number three times, with the two failures landing on 28 and 27 points.
Even more impressive – four of those games came away from home. Of their three successes, two of those games saw them clear 40 points.
Lastly, the Lions result that stands out from this season is their Week 7 trip to Baltimore. In that game, the Ravens boat raced Detroit’s defense for 38 points.
I also worry about the fact Detroit allowed 28 points to Chicago outdoors and allowed 24.7 points per game away from home, all without facing the league’s best offense.
For those reasons, sell high on the Detroit defense against this number and back the 49ers offense to thrive.
Jahmyr Gibbs Over 3.5 Receptions (+110)
This is largely a price play for me, as Gibbs has excelled against this number when facing zone coverage.
Even though he sits third on the Lions in total targets, he’s seen a drastic uptick against zone coverage. Of his 71 total targets, 18.6% have come against zone coverage, per ftnfantasy.com.
He also sees an increased catch percentage against the scheme. Against man coverage, Gibbs catches 68.4% of passes compared to 74% against zone coverage.
The Alabama product has also excelled at clearing this number against teams running heavy zones.
In eight games against teams who play zone at a 60% rate or higher, Gibbs has notched at least four receptions six times.
In the NFC Championship, he faces a 49ers side that runs zone coverage at the fifth-highest rate in the NFL.
Additionally, they allow tons of targets to opposing running backs – at 7.9 targets per game, San Francisco sits third-worst in the league in that category.
That trend should allow ample opportunity for Gibbs, the preferred back for Detroit in passing situations.
Given I also expect a negative game script for Detroit, a run-heavy approach feels unlikely.
As a result, this is worth a play so long as it’s available in plus-money.
Brandon Aiyuk 100+ Receiving Yards (+170)
Even if Deebo Samuel plays for the 49ers, the Lions have shown they struggle to stop top wide receivers.
That will put them in trouble against Aiyuk, who cleared this number in seven of 17 games with Brock Purdy at quarterback, a 41.1% hit rate.
Given the implied probability of these odds are 37%, I’m willing to take a shot against a bad Lions defense that runs zone coverage at a near-60% clip.
Although he’s second on the 49ers in target share vs. zone coverage, Aiyuk leads the team in yards per target against the scheme, per ftnfantasy.com.
Additionally, when targeted in zone, he leads the team with a 125.6 passer rating.
Of his seven 100+ yard games this season, five came against teams who run zone coverage more than 55% of the time.
Plus, Detroit’s best corner is Brian Branch. However, he lines up in slot coverage 96% of the time, whereas Aiyuk lines up there only 21% of the time.
Fellow corners Cameron Sutton and Kindle Vildor rank 172nd and 180th in PFF’s CB coverage grades, leaving a favorable matchup for Aiyuk.
Add in Detroit ranks 31st in yards allowed to opposing WR1’s AND has allowed a 100-yard receiver in five straight games, and I’ll bet this at a solid price.
Brock Purdy Longest Passing Completion Over 40.5 Yards (-115)
Purdy has done an excellent job generating explosive passes this season and has cleared this number nine times, with one failure coming via the hook.
Plus, although the Lions held Baker Mayfield under this number, it’s the exception rather than the rule.
In their four previous games, they allowed all four quarterbacks to clear this number.
For the season as a whole, Detroit allowed eight opponents to clear this number.
However, shrink the sample down to games against teams fifth or better in passing EPA per play – the 49ers lead the league in that category – and bettors will find all three passers cleared this number.
Although I recognize the domed environment helps passers – two of those pass-dominant performances came in a dome – the weather Sunday is no issue.
Santa Clara is projecting 71 degree weather with only six mph winds.
Plus, the 49ers lead the league in yards after catch this season, while the Lions are 23rd in PFF’s tackling grades.
As a result, take the over on Purdy’s longest completion.
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