Friday, October 14, 2011
49ers, Lions seek to continue strong starts
In a surprise marquee game of the week, the San Francisco 49ers take on the Detroit Lions on Sunday. The teams are a combined 9-1 after opening a combined 1-9 in 2010. It’s worth noting that over the past eight seasons (2003-10), the Lions had the worst record in the NFL (34-94) and the 49ers had the fourth-worst record in the NFL (46-82).
For the first time since 2002, the 49ers are 4-1 and a blown 10-point, fourth-quarter lead against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2 is the only reason San Francisco isn’t unbeaten. A win would give the 49ers their best six-game start since 1998 (5-1).
The Lions, on the other hand, are 5-0 for the first time since 1956, when Bobby Layne led the team to a 6-0 start. The only other times Detroit started 5-0 or better were in 1934 (10-0) and 1931 (8-0), when the team was known as the Portsmouth Spartans.
The 49ers offense has been great in their last two games. In Week 5, they posted their most points since 2003 in a 48-3 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, San Francisco’s largest margin of victory since Super Bowl XXIV (defeated the Denver Broncos 55-10).
A key to their success the last two games has been the rushing of Frank Gore, who has rushed for at least 125 yards in two straight games for the first time since Weeks 14-15 of 2006. The 49ers are 18-7 when Gore reaches triple digits since 2006.
The Lions have been led by the play of Calvin Johnson and Matthew Stafford. Johnson has nine receiving TDs this season, four more than any other player. His nine receiving scores are the most by any player through five games in NFL history.
Stafford has thrown five of his seven touchdowns on passes of 11 yards or more this season to Johnson. However, Stafford needs to be careful against the 49ers, who are tied for the league-lead in interceptions on that throw length.
Stats of the Game
• The 49ers are 2-0 on the road this year. A win Sunday would give them their first three-game road win streak in a single season since 1997 (won five straight road games).
• The Lions have won nine straight regular-season games, the longest active win streak in the NFL. A win would tie the longest win streak in franchise history (10, set in 1934).
• Detroit has lost seven straight games against San Francisco and is just 1-12 in its last 13 games vs. the 49ers, with its only win in that span coming in Week 4 of 1995 (27-24).