Well, THAT was ugly. Even though my wagering selections went 3-1 for the opening weekend of NFL games, the way the Lions played on Monday night sure did tarnish the early start. The Lions quickly took a 7-0 lead against the visiting Jets, but were then blown out of their own building in a nationally-televised humiliating 48-17 loss. Time to turn the page and try to go 4-0 this weekend.
To quickly recap (then move on, like the Lions must do this week), each week I will choose the side and total for the Lions games, as well as two other NFL wagers where I see value. Last week, my only loss was picking the Lions to cover the six-and-a-half points they gave to the Jets. I correctly chose the game score to go over 45 points. I was correct in assuming it would go over before the end of the third quarter.
I also chose the Washington Redskins over Arizona and took the under in the 49ers vs Vikings game. Washington won 24-6 as a one point underdog. The game in Minnesota was a 24-16 final, going under the 46-½ points.
As I mentioned in last week’s piece, I believed the Lions to be no better than a 6-10 team this season, and after Monday night’s loss, I feel even more confident that 6-10 is this team’s ceiling.
It should be noted that in the three-plus decades that I’ve followed the NFL, I’ve learned that teams are rarely as bad as a Week 1 loss, and are usually not as good as a Week 1 blowout winner. The Lions can still resemble a respectable NFL team this season, and are not a “bet-against” every week (like the Bills may be this year).
Moving forward to this week, the Lions are a six point underdog at San Francisco. The total on the game is currently 48-½. Game time is set for 4:05 pm ET.
Adding injury to insult, the Lions have some players that are questionable for the game. Guard T.J. Lang (back), DE Ezekiel Ansah (shoulder), and RB LeGarrette Blount (knee) are banged-up. Quarterback Matthew Stafford (chest) is probable, but will most likely not miss starting this game.
For the 49ers, WR Marquise Goodwin (quad) is listed as probable, and OL Erik Magnuson (hamstring), DB Adrian Colbert (hamstring) and G Joshua Garnett (toe) are questionable.
The Lions and 49ers have met 14 times since 1992. In those games, San Francisco has won twelve of those games, going 9-3-2 against the spread (ATS). Of those games, eight have been in San Francisco, where the 49ers have won every single game, going 6-1-1 ATS.
The Lions will definitely be chomping at the bit to play this week, to try to erase the taste from Monday night’s debacle. The 49ers are coming off a tough conference loss by eight points at Minnesota. Even though this is only Week 2 in the NFL, it’s a big game for both teams.
The key to this game will be the San Francisco offense against the Detroit defense. For the Lions to win, I believe they will have to limit the time of possession for the 49ers. The Lions defense is good (not great), and can hand with the San Fran offense–in short spurts. However, I don’t think the Lions offense can run a ball control type offense, and that’s why I think San Francisco will have the edge here.
The Lions are traditionally a poor road team, and this doesn’t look like the week that they can overpower a lesser opponent on the road.
Bet San Francisco -6
In the eight previous meetings between these teams in San Francisco, seven of the games have gone under the total.
While I believe the Lions defense won’t get gashed by the 49ers offense to the tune of 30+ points, I also don’t see the Lions offense turning everything around from Monday night. Teams that play on the road following a Monday night game (especially one as far away as this game) have to deal with a much shorter practice week, and this spot is tough to say the least for Detroit.
I expect this game to end in the low 40 point range, San Fran winning by 28-14. I don’t think this is a 50 point game, by any stretch.
Bet San Francisco/Detroit UNDER 48.5
The other two NFL wagers I like this week are:
NEW ORLEANS (-9.5) at home over Cleveland
As I mentioned earlier, teams are rarely as bad as they look in a Week 1 loss, and the Saints fit that bill to a “t”. They were embarrassed at home by a Tampa Bay team that no one thought would win, let alone score 48 points on the road. That loss hurt the Saints, but on the bright side, their offense is looking good.
The Browns couldn’t beat the Steelers in five quarters of play even though Pittsburgh kept giving them the ball to the tune of five turnovers. The teams settled for a tie. The Browns are now 1-31-1 in their last 33 games.
Cleveland is 6-17 ATS in their last 23 games where the spread is between 3.5 and 9.5. The Browns are 8-23 ATS in their last 31 games as an underdog, and 2-8 ATS the last three years following a division game.They aren’t winning in New Orleans. The Saints win by double digits, and it’s not even close. A blowout.
NY GIANTS/DALLAS UNDER 42.5
It’s probably unfair that the Sunday Night Football game may be the most boring game on Sunday. Neither team seems to have a passing game, and both will rely heavily on their start running backs. Giants rookie Saquon Barkley looked great in his NFL debut, and the nation will get to see him in Prime Time on Sunday.
Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys will be rounding into form, and the Dallas offense will have to rely on him heavily. It’s always a good idea to take the under when two teams that run the ball play each other, and this game is no different.
Seven of the last eight Giants games overall have gone under the total. The last eight NFC East matchups in Dallas, six went under the total. This has the makings of a 20-14 final. Bet the under.
LIONS side: 0-1
LIONS total: 1-0
OTHER wagers: 2-0