Chris Williams/Icon SMI - Justin Smith is a bad, bad man.
The Lions and Packers are sitting atop the NFC Central, both at 5-0...the only undefeated teams left in the NFL.
The 49'ers are 4-1 and sitting on top of the NFC West...and will be using a formula the franchise perfected in the 80's and 90's...play in the worst division in football and dominate it...the NFC West may just be a little worse than the WAC. Seriously, the Rams are awful, the Seahawks are a complete enigma and the Cardinals have no identity and appear to be just going through the motions.
Not that the 9'ers aren't good. They appear to have a very good, very aggressive defense and their offense is doing more than enough to keep them on the winning track.
Patrick Willis is the best MLB in football. Carlos Rogers is the guy I really wanted the Lions to get instead of Eric Wright and Jim Harbaugh appears to be pushing all of the right buttons with Alex Smith, Vernon Davis, Frank Gore, and Micheal Crabtree.
This game will not be easy. This is a classic let down game...even though the Lions know they are in for a battle against a 4-1 team...this game is coming after the huge, emotional victory on Monday night.
This will be a huge test. A test that Lions teams of the past have never really been up to.
And history is not on Detroit's side against those guys from the bay.
The 49ers have won 12 of the last 13 games, including the last seven straight.
But so far this season, this team has been all about ending the streaks and changing the trends. They ended the losing streaks to Chicago and Minnesota. They've won multiple games on the road...and in the division...Hopefully, that will continue this Sunday at Ford Field.
SF Offense vs Detroit Defense
Alex Smith is a former #1 overall draft pick, who, to date, had never played like a player with that much value. This year, he doesn't appear to be "winning" games as much as he is an excellent caretaker for games. Look for the 49'ers to combat the endless waves of stellar defensive lineman the Lions throw at opposing offenses with a heavy dose of screen passes and runs to all pro RB Frank Gore. Suh and Fairly and Williams and KVB and Avril need to put Smith on his back a lot more often than they did Jay Cutler last week and the linebackers need to be proficient in cleaning up the leftovers...like screens and the tight ends.
And San Fran has two really good tight ends in Vernon Davis and Dalaney Walker.
The Lions are oft criticized for not having a great secondary..but against the Niners that might not be that big of a deal as two of their top three wideouts are down with injuries.
Advantage: Detroit (But not by as much as you'd think.)
SF Defense vs Detroit Offense
This is where it gets really interesting. The Niners have a top 10 defense. Patrick Willis is probably the best MLB in football. The secondary is top notch. And Justin Smith and rookie OLB Aldon Smith can provide a lot of pass rush.
The real question of the day is: Can they provide enough pressure to stop the Stafford to Johnson touchdown train? I don't think so. The Lions will again find tough sledding in the run game as Willis is truly special...but nobody can cover Johnson and Backus has been able to handle Justin Smith in the past.
Just like every other week, if the Lions can keep Stafford healthy and playing the whole game, I like the Lions chances.
This is going to be a close slobber-knocker type game, but I just feel like this is the season the Lions are really going to trounce all of those old embarrassing streaks...like losing to the 49ers for the last 12 years...