How the Lions blew a 24-7 halftime lead here, I’m not sure I’ll ever reconcile...especially with how dominant Detroit was playing. Sure, there was the 4th-and-go-for-it moment but that was just one small piece of wood pulled from the Jenga tower. I didn’t feel like the 49ers played that great in their comeback...more lucky than good.
Not only did the 49ers roar back from a 17-point halftime deficit, they went up by 10 at one point...and I thought they were actually going to cover the 8 point +/- spread in this game, but a late Lions TD took the cover away.
The 49ers go on to the Super Bowl, having been outplayed in both of their playoff games...stunning for a #1 seed not dealing with any injuries to stumble so much. The 49ers have been installed as the big game favorite, but the line keeps dropping. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t a pick ‘em by next week. Too many good vibes out there on Kansas City...too much of people in their usual ‘what happened last week that I saw with my eyes’ mode that will dislike what they’ve seen with SF (two weeks in a row) and still no one believes in Brock Purdy, who should be playing in his second Super Bowl in a row. I won’t be surprised if KC is the favorite by next week.
What I wrote Monday night: The Lions loss is going to be tougher than anyone realizes...tougher on the franchise. We saw, from 2022 to 2023, what happens when really good/great coordinators leave a top team...the Eagles collapsed, and Nick Sirianni got exposed. I’m rooting for Dan Campbell, always, but I think his loss of O-C Ben Johnson (highly assumed to Washington) may be that move that sets the good Lions team back a peg...and as the rest of the NFC North improves to close the gap otherwise.
What I wrote Tuesday: Well, well, well...the best news the Lions could get...O-C Ben Johnson is staying in Detroit. That’s huge. Keeping the band together...keeping that talent...and the core of the offense should be returning only with enhancements/bumps at WR...the Lions become the NFC power for 2024...IF...they bolster the defense. They will be fine otherwise, but if they get some corners, especially, then this team could be the NFC favorites for sure. Ben Johnson returning is a massive PLUS...just like Arthur Smith to the Steelers is the opposite.
One last note on the Lions: The media making such a big deal about Dan Campbell’s ‘going for it’ on 4th-downs that, I believe, it subconsciously cajoled Campbell into trying to live up to this fake title/accolade...and he went for that 4th-down when he shouldn’t have, and things started unraveling after that. Campbell deserves the blame in that instance, but the media peer pressure was an underlying theme. Now, we’ll likely see Campbell not going for it on 4th-downs in the future, as much...scarred by this event. We saw that happen with Brandon Staley when he was Mr. 4th-down-go-for-it early in his career with the Chargers.
*Note any fractional numbers in parentheses (4/2) or (2/3), etc., are a 'split' stat on our definition of a 'quality start' (or not) marker on a player -- using 14 PPR points in a game for RB-WR-TE and 21 for a QB ...point levels that are good/productive/well above average starts for a Fantasy week. Trying to identify trends, consistency (or not) in players we might not normally realize.
A (3/2), for example, means: 3 times the player hit at/above the QUALITY mark, and 2 times they did not (this current season).
Player Dynasty/Fantasy Notes...
-- Brock Purdy (20-31 for 267 yards, 1 TD/1 INT, 5-48-0) struggled again for a half...and then got it together in the 2nd-half. Purdy has been so good in most games in his career, and good all game in games, that it’s weird to see him suddenly struggle for a half...and then have to go hero mode and pull things out of the fire late. That’s not been his pattern prior to these playoffs. I really can’t put my finger on what’s wrong with his performances of late.
This was a game that he should’ve planted 300+ yards and 2-3 TDs on this Detroit secondary with ease, but he struggled. If Brandon Aiyuk doesn’t miracle-catch a botched INT that ricocheted up for grabs...if Detroit made the clean pick, then that game is probably over for sure, and Purdy has an even weaker result...and more importantly, I probably would’ve lost my Purdy passing prop wins. Thank the Lord we got the early low pass yards prop line (262.5) on Purdy.
Again, this isn’t what Purdy has done/performed like all season or all career...he usually jumps on opponents and is efficient throughout, unless it’s raining out. Why the 49ers offense is floundering to the finish of this season is a mystery to me. And then if they end up winning the title AND Purdy is the MVP...it will be even more confounding.
Purdy’s FF value hangs in the balance every drive he plays, it seems. People were damning him to hell by halftime of this game...then going silent in the 2nd-half. People still think he is lucky or a Kyle Shanahan puppet – but that was probably the worst coached game by a head coach in the entire playoffs...Shanahan this game. Purdy single handedly pulled that win out with clutch throws and fantastic running of the ball (and the Lions dropping every pass in the 2nd-half).
Purdy cannot win this title over Patrick Mahomes, or the mainstream brainwashed football fan’s heads will explode.
-- Jared Goff (25-41 for 273 yards, 1 TD/0 INT), once again, played better than his opposing QB...three straight games in the playoffs. Goff has literally not made a mistake that I can recall these entire playoffs. He was betrayed here by Josh Reynolds (1-25-0/4) having a couple KEY...key-key-key drops.
Remember when the media and thus fans were all trying to replace Goff in Detroit...from the moment he arrived? The media, the consensus, the football intelligentsia has hated/tried to replace Goff and Purdy (among others) for years...totally disrespecting them – and the media/fans have been proven wrong to do so. And there’s been so many others, like Kirk Cousins or even early and later Tom Brady, that the media (and this fans) try to take out for sport and drama...but mostly because they are clueless...and yet the football masses will still hang on their every word about the upcoming QB rookie prospects, and they’re Bryce Young loving ways.
It was only like two months ago that the media, and thus fans, were calling for Sam Darnold to replace Brock Purdy. This offseason, I’m sure there will be a Hendon Hooker push to replace Goff. These people are clinically insane/terrible at their jobs...and fans are dutiful parrots in a cage.
...but I’m sure they’ll be right about Caleb Williams, though. You can trust them and their track record.
-- Deebo Samuel (8-89-0/9) has taken all the momentum among the 49ers WRs group in the playoffs. Brandon Aiyuk (3-68-1/8) has kinda disappeared after a WR1 PPR season. What has happened?
I’m not sure what has caused the switch in the playoffs, but after finishing the regular season with three 110+ yard games in his final 5 games...it’s been back-to-back semi=ghost games in the playoffs. Again, if Aiyuk didn’t catch that rebound/botched pick...it might have been back-to-back sub-50-yard games against defenses where that should not have happened.
Aiyuk did get a TD here, but otherwise he’s been quiet/a non-star in these playoffs. A third dud in the Super Bowl could really shake his value going into the 2024 season...and he’ll likely draw L’Jarius Sneed, so a down game is probably coming.
The Aiyuk fade has also run parallel to the Purdy struggles in the playoffs. Deebo is the easier throw/touch in times of trouble.
Aiyuk is soon to hit free agency, but I doubt the 49ers allow it to happen.
Deebo is a Shanahan play call favorite, especially in times of trouble...which is smart, because he’s so versatile to bubble screen and jet sweep with...and the 49ers have been sputtering/in trouble most of the playoffs so far.
-- Josh Reynolds (1-25-0/4) was really the/a main cause of this loss, as stated earlier. He dropped a couple of key, catchable passes that stalled drives, etc. Reynolds having a prominent role is the fault of Jameson Williams (2-25-1/3, 1-42-1).
Williams was supposed to be an ace NFL WR, and I thought he would be pre/post-NFL Draft, but he hasn’t been close to that...and thus JReyn gets more snaps/opportunities by default this season...the Lions have nothing else at WR to turn to. JW had a nice jet sweep TD here then later caught a basic TD pass, but with a big opportunity, a big Lions offensive need for ‘Jamo’ to step up/go to the next level this season and playoffs – he hasn’t. He’s just a random 2-3 target a game WR that looks nothing like a high-1st-round draft pick WR. I really don’t see him getting any better this season/the past 4-6 games.
It just looks like Williams is going to be a letdown/random event in the NFL.
-- Both Conference Final games had key, crucial game changing turnovers from rookies...in this one, it was Jahmyr Gibbs (12-45-1, 3-11-0/6). Gibbs did score a TD in this one., but he also had the critical fumble...and didn’t do much otherwise.
I know Gibbs will be an RB1 in PPR next year, I’m not disputing that...but I am also marveling at how Gibbs does basic, normal/good RB stuff and the analysts lose their s#!$ when they see it. I wonder if the Lions would like to have that 1st-round pick back in order to take a WR who could catch the ball in place of Josh Reynolds?
Doesn’t matter. The Lions drafted Gibbs with intent, and he will get all the opportunity they can get him...when they could’ve found a UDFA RB (like Keaton Mitchell) or free agent of the street RB (like a Ty Johnson) and accomplished the same thing, and then could’ve used that high 1st-round pick for a foundational must like a shutdown cornerback or further strengthening the O-Line.
-- I think one of the first things Kyle Shanahan will do after the Super Bowl, win or lose, is fire D-C Steve Wilks. In their last 6 games, SF has allowed 29-33-10-21-21-31 points in games and been thoroughly outwitted in a majority of their two playoff games.
If/when the 49ers lose the Super Bowl...Steve Wilks will be the reason, but the blame will still go to Brock Purdy.
Snap Counts of Interest:
68 = ARSB
66 = JReynolds
52 = Jameson W
06 = DPJ
04 = Antoine Green
39 = Gibbs
31 = DMontg
56 = Aiyuk
51 = Deebo
28 = J Jennings
03 = McCloud