If you read our staff predictions for the San Francisco 49ers playoff home opener against the Green Bay Packers, every one of us picked the Niners to cover. Kyle Shanahan was on the brink of elimination for much of the game. I don’t think anybody thought the Divisional round would go that way.
The Detroit Lions didn’t exactly run away with their game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Jared Goff was a 6-point home favorite. Every time the Lions scored, Tampa Bay answered. The difference in both games was untimely turnovers.
Heading into the NFC Championship, oddsmakers expect the 49ers to look more like the 49ers did all season, and Goff’s history when he plays outdoors will look the same. San Francisco is a 7-point home favorite over Detroit on DraftKings Sportsbook, with the total on the game set at 51. So we’re looking at a projection of 29-22, 49ers.
The Lions scored 30 points in two of their final three road games, but that was against Nick Mullens, and turnovers aided them. Before that, Goff threw two interceptions, and the Lions scored 19 points against Dallas. Two weeks earlier in Chicago, Goff threw two more picks, and the Lions only mustered 13 points against the Packers. They also lost to the Packers at Lambeau Field.
This is a different club when they have to go outside. That’s baked into the number and part of why the spread seems so high.
The other reason is Detroit’s defense. Detroit was outgained 408 to 391. The Buccaneers averaged nearly seven yards per play and six yards per rush. They converted a touchdown on all three of their red zone trips. But two turnovers and a pair of Mike Evans drops were the difference.
If Brock Purdy plays at or near the same level as Baker Mayfield did, the 49ers won’t have an issue scoring. One of Purdy’s biggest strengths was beating the blitz this season. Mayfield was blitzed on 21 of his 46 dropbacks. While he was sacked three times — you’d assume the 49ers would have an answer for the Lions’ nickel blitz — Baker completed 12 of his 18 attempts for 121 yards and eight first downs.
Seven points reads like a considerable number, but if the Niners protect the ball, hit Goff earlier, and force him to play from behind, winning by a touchdown isn’t a tall task, assuming the 49ers don’t go two games in a row playing their C- game.