49ers-Lions prediction: NFC championship odds, picks, best bets
In the penultimate game of the NFL season, the Lions head out west to take on the 49ers in the NFC Championship.
It hasnt been a pretty path for the 49ers, who ever-so-slightly eked past the Packers last week.
Their do-it-all receiver Deebo Samuel could be limited.
He missed the majority of the divisional bout after injuring a shoulder.
He returned to practice in a limited fashion Thursday and was removed from the injury report Friday.
He will play, but how much and how well is not clear.
As for the Lions, its Jared Goffs first road game of the playoffs. Dan Campbells aggressiveness has led Detroit to a pair of one-possession playoff wins.
When looking at this matchup, there are some clear weaknesses for both teams.
For starters, the Lions defense has been torched through the air.
Despite pressure from its front line and its strength in the run game, Detroit has given up at least 140 yards to a receiver in each of the past six games.
3Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions catches a pass for a touchdown in front of Zyon McCollum #27 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the fourth quarter of the NFC Divisional Playoff game at Ford Field. Getty ImagesBrock Purdy should have no issues lighting up this defense.
He ranks inside the top five in EPA/play both in a clean pocket and while under pressure.
His success rate is also among the NFLs elite.
Even if Samuel is out or plays in a limited role, the 49ers should have minimal issues moving the ball down the field.
Detroit ranks in the bottom half of defensive DVOA and allows more than three points more per game when away from Ford Field.
The Lions also allow the most explosive plays in the NFL.
3Deebo Samuel is expected to play this weekend. Getty ImagesOn the flip side, the Lions should be able to move the ball against a 49ers team that showed some cracks in its opening playoff game against the Packers.
Aaron Jones gashed the San Francisco rush defense the chink in its armor and now the 49ers draw a Lions team that ranks No. 1 in rushing DVOA.
That, paired with Campbells aggressiveness, opens the door for a high-scoring game.
There should be plenty of explosives among two teams that have no shortage of elite playmakers.
Keeping that in mind, Im targeting two of those skill position players when it comes to props.
Look toward Christian McCaffreys Over in receptions (4.5) as well as Amon-Ra St. Browns hefty receiving yards (84.5) on Sunday night.
Lets start with McCaffrey.
Even if Samuel returns, he will likely play in a limited capacity.
That means more shared targets.
Tack on the fact that the Lions front seven generates a ton of pressure on the quarterback, and that should also lead to check-down opportunities for McCaffrey.
Last week, in a tight game, McCaffrey caught seven passes. Hes finished with five-plus in three of his past four games and averages 4.4 per game.
In a do-or-die conference championship with a limited Samuel, I expect the 49ers to feed McCaffrey as much as they can.
Given Detroits success stopping the run, that will likely translate to more targets for McCaffrey.
As for St. Brown, hes no stranger to big games. In five of the past six, he has hauled in 90-plus receiving yards.
The Lions passing game goes as their star receiver does.
3Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) reacts after winning a 2024 NFC divisional round game. USA TODAY Sports via Reuters ConGiven the 7-point spread in what is expected to be a trailing game script for the Lions, St. Brown should see double-digit targets.
His ability to line up in the slot also allows Detroit to create a mismatch in favor of St. Brown.
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The slot is where San Francisco struggles most.
Based on pure volume and the ever-growing total,
Im expecting a high-scoring affair.
Back McCaffrey and St. Brown to guide their respective teams in a thrilling NFC Championship game.
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