Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 9:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Detroit +7 over San Francisco
Best Odds: +100 at Sportsinteraction
3:08 PM EST. There are always a lot of reasons to support the San Francisco 49ers. Even though Brock Purdy wasn’t at his best last weekend (and that’s probably an understatement), the 49ers found a way. Why? Because they’re too damn talented. At every level, GM John Lynch and HC Kyle Shanahan have built a championship roster. We saw that plainly and clearly last Saturday, when individual Niners made big plays to keep their team in the game. To Purdy’s credit, he was at his best on San Francisco’s final drive, a 12-play, 69-yard march that took over 5 minutes late in the fourth quarter, leaving Jordan Love and the Packers just over 60 seconds to try and garner a comeback. You know how the rest of the story goes.
It all ended well for the NFC’s #1 seed, but that doesn’t mean we’re not concerned. 2022’s “Mr. Irrelevant'' lived up to his name last Saturday, looking blatantly confused on early passing plays and air-mailing his receivers more times than we could count. Purdy ended with a respectable 23 completions and 252 yards, but at times the moment seemed awfully big for him. Bettors forget that he’s never played at this stage. Last season’s ascent to relevancy had to be fun for the guy, but this go-round is different. Purdy has expectations on him, a heavy pressure to calmly lead his team through adversity while performing at the highest level possible, and he’s doing it for a roster that’s dying to finally win a Super Bowl. The 24-year old has shown maturity despite his young age, but that would be a lot for anyone to handle, even the most veteran QBs.
Now, it’s worth noting a few obvious things. The Niners lost Deebo Samuel early against the Packers. He's officially been cleared for San Fran, which should make a huge difference. It was obvious how much they missed him in key moments last weekend. Purdy also hasn’t thrown well in inclement weather, and his defenders will say that his small hands struggle with a slick ball. Okay… not ideal for a franchise QB but, cool. Luckily for Purdy, Santa Clara will be sunny and 70 degrees this weekend, a much better scenario for productive offense.
Meanwhile, Jared Goff and the Lions don’t have or need the same excuses. We saw some inefficiency from their defense last Sunday, but overall the Lions have been clutch when the moment is biggest. It should be clear to everyone now that Dan Campbell’s culture is working, and Detroit has played with aggression and moxie because of it. The Divisional Round was a showcase of how far they’ve come– Goff was surgical (30/43, 287 yards, 2 TDs on Sunday), their run-game was effective in big spots, and their defense made plays when it mattered. It was the same energy we saw in the Lions’ Week 1 victory over the Chiefs, or in their Week 18 win over the Packers’ last season, when they booted their rival out of the playoffs. Campbell’s team is built to play at their best in the toughest moments, and we expect more of the same on Sunday.
As far as the total goes, the game narrative suggests we'll see points. The Lions like to run the ball, and they’re very good at it– top 10 in all major categories, including a top-5 mark of 4.5 yards per carry. The 49ers’ defense is exceptionally talented, but they’re not particularly stout against the run. Aaron Jones and the Packers’ backfield ran for 4.9 yards per carry on them last weekend, a bad forecast when dynamic backs like Jahmyr Gibbs and David Montgomery are coming to town. The Lions' offense is at its best when the ground game is working and play-action fools the defense. On the other end, Purdy’s positive regression should only be aided by a Lions’ pass-defense that’s good not great, one that permitted 349 yards to Baker Mayfield last weekend. The advantages of both offenses and the ideal conditions for a high-scoring affair have us leaning to the over, but there's another bet we'd rather make.
The 49ers are a massive upgrade in competition from the Bucs, but Jared Goff has been here before, conceivably one over-throw away from a Super Bowl win just 6 years ago. He's also from Northern California, so all the pundits who are adamant about him not performing well outdoors? Let's calm down, shall we? We also know Dan Campbell is an effective motivator, someone who has his men fighting hard and always battle ready. We can’t say that about Kyle Shanahan. Genius play caller? Probaby. But we’ve seen the 49ers crack in the playoffs before, not to mention on a tough road trip and 3-game losing streak earlier this season. We trust Purdy will play well, but will he play so well that Goff and an explosive Lions’ offense can’t keep up? We think not.
Detroit +7 +100 (Risking 2 units - To Win: 2.00)