The Detroit Lions begin the 2021 NFL season against the San Francisco 49ers as -7.5 (BetRivers) underdogs at home. Unfortunately, for Lions fans, they enter the season in very familiar territory: rebuilding. After trying their hand as the diet Patriots under head coach Matt Patricia and general manager Bob Quinn, the Lions opted for a youth movement.
New general manager Brad Holmes and “kneecap-biting” head coach Dan Campbell attempt to make the Lions winners in a more “collaborative” effort. However, year one will likely feature lots of growing pains as the Lions drew the 10th most difficult schedule in the League, starting with the hungry 49ers.
One of the first moves GM Brad Holmes made also signaled where the Lions are headed. By trading Matt Stafford for Jared Goff and a bevy of draft picks, the Lions start from scratch, again. They also heavily invested in the trenches, scoring a coup when Penei Sewell fell to them at seven. Hopefully, Sewell can improve Detroit’s atrocious rushing attack (ranked 30th last season). They face quite a task going up against the 49ers’ 7th best rushing defense, allowing 106.4 yards per game.
While Goff might see decent protection in his first Lions season, finding open receivers might become an issue. Kenny Golladay, Marvin Jones, and Mohamed Sanu all left in free agency. Against a 49er defense whose only question mark remains the secondary, that could spell trouble. San Francisco also ranked fourth in 3rd down conversions allowed at just 35.5%. According to BetMGM, the O/U stands at 46 (-110) making the under an intriguing option.
On the other side, the Niners look to rebound from a hellish 2020. After resembling a traveling infirmary more than a football team, you can expect Kyle Shannan and Co. to return with a vengeance. The team hasn’t named a starting QB as of yet but you can count on seeing both Jimmy Garappollo and Trey Lance.
One worrying trend if you bet the under is the red zone. San Francisco, despite all the injuries last season, converted 67% of their red zone opportunities. Conversely, the Lions gave up a score on 72% of opponent’s possessions around paydirt, 31st in the league.
The dual-threat nature of their prized draft pick combined with Shannan’s dominant zone blocking scheme will be too tempting not to utilize. The run-heavy nature of the Niners also plays into a lower-scoring game.
If you’re looking for 49er value, DraftKings has a litany of alternate spread totals. San Fransisco +10 (+125) +10.5 (+140) +11 (+145) and +13.5 (+185) all offer some juice to bet on the favorite.
However, if you’re a Lion fan and rather not root against your own squad, DraftKings has you covered with some fun prop bets. Lions to score first is +130 and their moneyline to win the first quarter also has some realistic value at +160. It may be a painful year for Lions fans but that doesn’t mean you can’t make some money off the misery.