The 4&1 San Francisco 49ers travel to Detroit to take on the unbeaten Lions in what formwise looks like being the game of the week, we don't necessarily feel that will be the case as the 49ers look to have had an exceptionally easy schedule so far helping to contribute to that great & unexpected start. San Francisco undoubtedly have been great on defense this year & have conceded the least points of the teams that have played 5 games with just 78 in the against column & they've had 8 interceptions already, conversely quarterback Alex Smith has thrown just one interception all season. Smith is hardly a top passer & this season has been quite different to the rest of his career where before this season he'd thrown 51 touchdown passes & 53 interceptions. Jonathan Goodwin the signing at centre from New Orleans & 2nd season guard Mike Iupati have done a good job at giving Alex Smith time to pass & helping Frank Gore maintain his consistent running game but they could struggle to perform as well against Detroit's pass rush with Ndamukong Suh continuing to have a great season & linebacker Stephen Tulloch already having 32 tackles in these 5 games.
(The 49ers Alex Smith surely won't find it as easy against the Lions' defense)
On offense the Lions have the player of the year so far in Calvin Johnson, Megatron having caught 9 TD passes so far, he will cause problems for the 49ers defensive backs & if they double team him quarterback Matt Stafford can switch to Nate Burleson, Titus Young or tight end Brandon Pettigrew for potent passing targets. The atmosphere in Detroit is outstanding & loud, Chicago made countless errors on Monday night due to the crowd noise & it won't be any easier for the 49ers, after countless come from behind wins the Lions are feeling great & they can beat the handicap line of -4 points wth something to spare. Pettigrew looks a great alternative to Calvin Johnson in the touchdown markets & can be backed at 12/1 to score the first TD & 17/10 to score anytime at 17/10 with Paddy Power.
Elsewhere our Super Bowl fancies the Houston Texans face a tough to trip to the Baltimore Ravens who are coming off a bye week who have won 3 of 4 & are only conceding just over 14 points a game. This looks a tough ask for the Texans offense as the Ravens haven't just been efficient on defense - they've also made plays with 8 forced fumbles & 6 interceptions & getting 4 touchdowns directly off of those plays. Matt Schaub has done well so far at looking after the ball this season up until last week's hectic game against the Raiders where he threw two picks, with star running back Arian Foster looking sharper with every game that should take pressure off of the passing game anyway. If the Texans can look after the ball on offense they should have some success as the Ravens are hardly an all round offensive unit, they rely heavily on the excellent running game of Ray Rice & their O-Line is geared up to make space for runs, it isn't so great for Joe Flacco's passing game & his completion rate for passing is running at just 49.3% on the season. Those figures won't scare the Texans who rank 6th against the pass & 12th against the run - they've improved massively on the defensive side of the game this year but are missing Mario Williams with a torn pectoral muscle & he'll be out for the year. The Ravens have done well against the run, as usual, this year but probably haven't faced one as good & versatile as Foster yet, he will also prove valuable out of the backfield as a receiver with Andre Johnson still missing at wide receiver. We expect this to be relatively low scoring & that should mean the Texans can at least keep this tight, with them receiving +9 points on the handicap they should be backed with confidence. Arian Foster is a star & the best price of 11/2 on offer with Ladbrokes for him to score the first touchdown looks value.
Detroit Lions to beat San Francisco 49ers with -4 points on the handicap market at 10/11 (general)
Brandon Pettigrew to score 1st touchdown at 11/1 & to score a touchdown anytime at 17/10 with Paddy Power
Houston Texans to beat Baltimore Ravens with +9 points on the handicap at 4/5 (Totesport & Blue Square)
Arian Foster to score 1st touchdown at 11/2 with Ladbrokes
Double on Detroit Lions -4 & Houston Texans +9 pays odds of just under 5/2