The Worksheet, a comprehensive fantasy football preview by Rich Hribar, breaks down everything you need to know about the NFC Championship Game between the 49ers and Lions.

Find a breakdown of every NFL Conference Championship Round game in our Worksheet Hub.

DetroitRank@San FranciscoRank
7.0 Spread-7.0
22.0 Implied Total29.0
23.223Points All./Gm17.73
60.65Opp. Plays/Gm61.17
5.93Off. Yards/Play6.61
5.728Def. Yards/Play57
38.19%5Opp. Rush %36.09%1
61.81%28Opp. Pass %63.91%32

Against the Spread

  • 49ers: 9-9
  • Lions: 13-6
  • 49ers ATS at Home: 3-6
  • Lions ATS Away: 7-2
  • 49ers ATS as Favorite: 9-9
  • Lions ATS as Underdog: 2-1

Game Overview

They did not take an easy road, but the 49ers closed out the Packers with a 24-21 win in the Divisional Round to advance.

This is the third straight NFC Championship Game for San Francisco and their fourth over the past five seasons.

The Lions waited 33 years for a playoff win in the Wild Card Round.

They only had to wait seven days for their next playoff win as Detroit took care of the Buccaneers at home this past week 31-23.

The Lions are one of four remaining teams in the league that have yet to play in the Super Bowl, so they will look to end one more streak this postseason.

This will be just the second time in the Super Bowl Era that Detroit will play in the NFC Championship Game, with the last time coming back in the 1991 season.

This game features two front-end offensive attacks.

San Francisco is second in the NFL in points per drive (2.68) while the Lions are third (2.45).

When these teams score points, they reach the end zone.

Detroit leads the NFL in rate of scoring plays that are touchdowns (75.3%) while San Francisco is second (74.1%).

The 49ers lead the NFL in yards per play (6.6) while Detroit is third (5.9).

These are two of the best teams at avoiding third downs.

San Francisco leads the NFL with just 37.7% of their set of downs reaching third down while Detroit is fifth (44.4%).

When these offenses have reached third down, the 49ers are third in the NFL (48.7%) while Detroit is ninth (41.3%) in converting.

The defensive side of the ball is where there is a large discrepancy between the Lions and the other three teams remaining in the playoffs.

Whereas Baltimore, Kansas City, and San Franciso rank first, second, and third in points allowed per game this season, the Lions are 23rd.

Those other three teams are all in the top seven in yards allowed per play while the Lions are 28th.

Those other three teams are all in the top seven in points allowed per drive while the Lions are 26th.

When the Lions allowed 28 or more points this season, they were 2-4.

The 49ers scored 28 or more points in 10 games this season, second in the NFL.

They did not come close to scoring 28 points in either game without Deebo Samuel this season, whose status is in jeopardy for this game.

San Francisco has an 8-9 record with Samuel inactive over his career, including a 0-2 record without him this season.

That said, they had won their four previous games without him active and averaged 6.1 and 8.2 yards per play in the two games that he missed this season, so we are working with a healthy amount of moving parts. We will delve deeper into those in the player section.

Nonetheless, San Francisco does have a 1-4 record straight up and is 0-5 against the spread in games that he has missed or could not finish this season.

No team has done a better job beating point spreads than Dan Campbell’s Lions.

They have the best ATS record in the NFL this season and are now 36-17 ATS under Campbell overall.

That is the best mark in the league over the past three seasons and for any head coach through three seasons since the 1970 merger.

They are 12-4 against the spread under Campbell as an underdog of six or more points.

They have only won two of those games if playing for a true upset.

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Brock Purdy: Purdy had one of his worst starts of the season in the Divisional Round before salvaging things with a game-winning drive to propel San Francisco into the NFC Championship Game.

Purdy threw for just 6.5 yards per pass attempt on Saturday, his second-lowest rate in a game this season.

The lowest was when he averaged 4.6 Y/A in Cleveland in Week 6.

Purdy had a 25.6% inaccurate throw rate against Green Bay, the highest rate he has had in any start over his early career.

The only other time he had an inaccurate target rate over 20% was in Cleveland in Week 6 (22.2%).

For some context, Purdy has a 10.6% inaccurate target rate for the season with those two games factored in.

A few common dominators from that game on Saturday and that game in Cleveland are that Deebo Samuel left the game early and the game was played throughout the rain.

People will pile up on the first part this week, but going back to college, the latter stands out as more consistent, albeit on a small sample.

Purdy’s rate stats do dip without Samuel on the field, but those stats are still gaudy.

With Samuel off the field (and these stats include both the game on Saturday and Cleveland) on 164 dropbacks this season, Purdy’s 9.5 Y/A and 105.5 rating as a passer would still lead the NFL.

When Samuel outright missed Week 7 and Week 8, Purdy still completed 70.0% and 71.0% of his passes for 9.1 Y/A and 11.8 Y/A.

Ball protection was the largest issue in those games as he threw multiple interceptions in both.

But even looking at the few rain games that Purdy played in college, he had struggles.

Early forecasts for this game suggest there will not be any weather concerns.

Having a player like Samuel playing is a huge bonus for Purdy since he is a great player. But with or without Samuel, I do believe Purdy can have success in this matchup.

The other element here is that although Purdy was largely awful on Saturday night, he did orchestrate a comeback on an elevated stage.

Up until Saturday, we had yet to see Purdy deliver when faced with trailing late in the game. It was just the second game that he has won as a starter when trailing in the fourth quarter.

The other was in Week 17 last season against the Raiders, and in that game, he attempted just two passes trailing.

We do not have a large sample of Purdy trailing.

He has just 69 total dropbacks trailing in the fourth quarter of his career. On those dropbacks, he has completed 55.4% of his passes for 7.4 Y/A with one touchdown and four interceptions.

Detroit has to play from ahead like the Minnesota and Cincinnati defenses did in the middle of the season.

This Detroit team has had many issues on the back end slowing down the pass.

Since Week 7, the Lions have allowed a league-high 8.8 Y/A.

They have allowed 25 passing touchdowns (30th) and a 5.8% touchdown rate (29th) over that stretch with 17.6 passing points for fantasy per game. For some reference, that would have ranked 30th over the season.

Over their past five games, the Lions have allowed over 300 passing yards and multiple touchdown passes in all five games. No team in league history has allowed such a streak. All five of those passers have averaged at least 8.5 yards per pass attempt.

Both of these passing games operate in the middle of the field.

Purdy is third in the NFL in throw rate between the numbers (54.6%).

On those throws, Detroit has allowed a league-high 9.0 Y/A with 17 passing touchdowns (31st).

Purdy has also been good when he has had to go outside with the football.

On throws from the sidelines to the numbers, he leads the NFL with a 139.4 rating, completing 77.1% of those throws (second) for a league-high 11.5 Y/A.

Detroit is an equal-opportunity defense, allowing 8.7 Y/A (28th) and a 5.7% touchdown rate (24th) on those throws.

The antithesis of “bend but don’t fully break,” the one thing that Detroit has done well over that stretch, something that needs to be acknowledged here with Purdy’s splits with and without Samuel this season, is that the Lions also have 9 interceptions over those five games.

Purdy can have a big day passing day and stack fantasy points, but if Detroit can still get enough takeaways, they are live in the overall outcome of this game.

As bad as Detroit has been against the opposing passer, the one thing they can do is rush the passer.

Detroit is fourth in the league in terms of pressure rate (40.4% of dropbacks).

Even in clean conditions, you at least have a shot if you pressure Purdy. If he operates from a clean pocket in clean conditions, you are close to drawing dead.

From a clean pocket, Purdy has completed 76.2% of his passes (second in the NFL) for a league-high 10.1 Y/A with 4.2 touchdown passes for every interception.

His 8.0 Y/A under pressure is still second in the league, but at least that paired with a 54.7% completion rate and a 1.8 TD/INT ratio is a sharp decrease in output.

Jared Goff: Goff has Detroit in the NFC Championship for the second time ever.

He also has familiarity with these stakes, playing in his second Conference Championship Game.

Goff is just the fifth quarterback to lead two different teams to Conference Championship Games in the 2000s, joining Tom Brady, Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, and Kurt Warner. Not bad company.

And make no mistakes, Goff was part of why Detroit is here.

In the fourth quarter on Sunday, Goff was 11-of-12 for 131 yards (10.9 Y/A) with a touchdown.

The first thing everyone is going to talk about this week is the home and road splits for Goff.

Yes, Goff has front-end numbers in Detroit.

He is averaging 280.4 passing yards and 2.2 passing touchdowns per game for 8.1 Y/A at home compared to 259.4 passing yards and 1.2 passing touchdowns per game for 7.1 Y/A on the road.

But those yardage marks are seventh in the NFL on the road while his yards per pass attempt are ninth in the league on the road.

If you have read this article for multiple seasons, you already know that what I care about with Goff is the matchup and whether that defense can disrupt him.

Goff does have some poor-weather concerns on a larger sample than what we highlighted with Purdy, but as mentioned earlier, we are not expecting weather to be an issue here.

Goff has been largely fine on the road against bad defenses, even outdoors.

The problem is his outdoor road games this season were at Kansas City, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, Baltimore, and Chicago. That’s a hell schedule for great passers.

The only teams in the back half of the league in passing points allowed this season from that sample were the Bucs and Bears. He roasted the Bucs on the road in Week 6.

The Bears surged to close the season, and that game came in cold conditions, which I do factor into his road splits.

I am not going to focus on his road splits here because I believe the top-down matchup is a larger concern.

57.1% of Goff’s passes are between the numbers this season, the highest rate in the league.

On those throws, Goff is completing 77.9% of his passes (ninth) and is averaging 8.9 Y/A (sixth).

The San Francisco defense has been the best in the NFL over the middle of the field.

On those throws numbers to numbers, the 49ers have allowed a league-low 73.3 rating.

Opposing passers have six passing touchdowns and 17 interceptions on those throws, averaging 7.0 Y/A (third).

Unlike Purdy, Goff’s production when tasked to throw outside the numbers takes a hit.

His 70.0% completion rate on those throws is 22nd in the NFL while his 7.6 Y/A is 19th.

The thing that downright has mattered the most for Goff over his career is if you can disrupt him and force him to win outside of the play structure.

In these playoffs, Goff has only been pressured on 33.0% of his dropbacks, the third-lowest rate of any passer.

When kept clean against the Rams and Buccaneers, Goff completed 42-of-51 passes (82.4%) for 470 yards (9.2 Y/A) with three touchdowns and zero interceptions.

When pressured, he has gone 10-of-19 (52.6%) for 94 yards (4.9 Y/A) without a touchdown.

For the season, Goff has completed 75.6% of his passes when pressured (third in the NFL) for 8.2 Y/A (eighth) while throwing 27 touchdowns to three interceptions.

When pressured, Goff has completed 51.4% of his passes (ninth) for 6.3 Y/A (13th) with six touchdowns and nine interceptions.

With Jonah Jackson out for this game and Frank Ragnow playing with knee and ankle injuries, Detroit will have their hands full.

San Francisco is seventh in the NFL in pressure rate (39.6%).

Goff is no stranger to playing the 49ers or playing in San Francisco from his days with the Rams.

When the 49ers pressured Goff in those games (he does have one start against San Francisco with the Lions) he completed 39.2% of his passes for 4.9 Y/A.

As good as the 49ers have been top-down defensively this season, they have had more lapses than the other top defenses in the playoffs such as Baltimore and Kansas City.

We have seen a few rhythm passers get going against them to offer a path to efficiency for Goff if this pass rush does not get home.

While the sample size is still small, Joe Burrow (23.3), Kirk Cousins (21.1), Josh Dobbs (18.6) and Lamar Jackson (18.1) had at least 18.0 passing points in a game against the 49ers in the regular season.

Running Back

Christian McCaffrey: This matchup has a few strength-on-strength battles, but this is arguably the best of them.

McCaffrey turned 24 touches into 128 total yards and two touchdowns against Green Bay on Saturday.

He has hit 100 yards from scrimmage in 13-of-17 games this season and has been below 91 total yards just twice all year.

In 31 games with the 49ers, McCaffrey has scored 36 touchdowns.

He has played four postseason games with San Francisco, scoring a touchdown in all four games with five in total.

Detroit has allowed 3.6 YPC to running backs, third in the NFL.

They have a 67.4% success rate against running back runs, fourth in the NFL.

The Lions have allowed 8.5 rushing points (first in the league) and 6.9 receiving points per game (third) to running backs.

No running back has rushed for more than 69 yards in a game against them this season. McCaffrey has rushed for 78 or more yards in 12-of-17 games this season.

San Francisco has faced only two teams in the top 10 in yards per carry allowed to running backs this season, one of which was Minnesota.

In that game, McCaffrey rushed 15 times for 45 yards, but he still added 51 yards receiving and scored two touchdowns.

Just three backs have hit 100 total yards against Detroit this season with those backs contributing 80, 58, and 48 yards in the receiving game, something McCaffrey is capable of.

Despite their strong peripheral metrics, combo back Rachaad White had 91 yards and a touchdown on 13 touches this past Sunday against the Lions.

Detroit RBs: David Montgomery only led this backfield in two of the final nine games of the regular season when both he and Jahmyr Gibbs were healthy, but Monty has led this backfield in snaps in both postseason games.

Montgomery out-snapped Gibbs 30-19 in the Wild Card Round and 41-26 last week.

Despite the edge in snaps, both backs had an identical 13 touches, and it was Gibbs who provided the spark in this backfield.

Gibbs turned his 13 touches into 114 total yards, highlighted by a 31-yard touchdown run that put Detroit ahead in the fourth quarter.

In the playoffs, we have seen more of a clear usage pattern for these backs with Montgomery in a grinder role and Gibbs in a satellite role.

In the playoffs, 58.3% of Montgomery’s runs have come against loaded boxes with just 16.7% of his runs out of the shotgun.

Just 23.5% of the rushes that Gibbs has received have come against loaded boxes while 41.2% of his runs have come out of the shotgun.

Over the final nine games of the regular season with both backs active, it was Montgomery who had a higher rate of shotgun runs (29.4%) and runs versus light boxes (28.8%) than Gibbs received (28.2% and 20.8%).

San Francisco has been a good run defense overall, but they can be attacked on the edges.

The 49ers have allowed 4.6 YPC to running back runs off either tackle or edge, 24th in the league. They are allowing 1.12 yards before contact (15th) with 3.52 yards after contact (29th) on those rushes.

In the Divisional Round, Green Bay running backs rushed 10 times for 99 yards on those runs. San Francisco had a 40% success rate on those against them.

On runs guard-to-guard on the interior, San Francisco has allowed 3.9 YPC (12th) to running backs, allowing 0.92 yards before contact (third in the league) with 2.99 yards after contact (24th).

In the Divisional Round, Green Bay running backs rushed 12 times for just 25 yards on those runs.

In the postseason, Gibbs has 12 of those outside runs compared to nine for Montgomery.

With both backs active since Week 10, Gibbs has 66 of those runs compared to 50 for Montgomery.

Gibbs has six touchdowns on those runs compared to one for Montgomery, but Monty has been more efficient, averaging 4.7 YPC with a run of 10 or more yards on 18.0% compared to 3.7 YPC for Gibbs with a 12.1% explosive rate.

Inversely, Gibbs has been better than Montgomery on those inside runs.

Montgomery has out-rushed Gibbs 99-to-56 on inside runs over that span, but Gibbs is averaging 7.1 YPC with an explosive run on 21.4% of those rushes compared to 4.9 YPC with a 9.1% explosive rate for Montgomery.

Wide Receiver

Amon-Ra St. Brown: St. Brown continued to soak up massive opportunity last week, catching 8-of-14 targets for 77 yards and a touchdown against the Buccaneers.

St. Brown now has 100 yards or a touchdown in 16-of-18 games this season. He has at least six receptions in 15-of-18 games played.

Only Tyreek Hill (36.2%), Davante Adams (30.2%), and CeeDee Lamb (28.8%) have been targeted at a higher rate per route run than St. Brown (28.8%) while that rate has spiked to 31.1% this postseason.

He wins inside and out as well.

St. Brown has played 49.1% of his snaps out wide and 49.3% in the slot.

He has been targeted on 28.6% of his routes with 3.09 yards per route run on the outside.

In the slot, he has been targeted on 29.0% of his routes with 2.26 yards per route run.

Only 33.8% of the wide receiver receptions allowed by San Francisco have come from the slot (ninth in the league), but they have allowed a 7.2% touchdown rate on those targets, 28th in the league. Wideouts have nine touchdowns from the slot against San Francisco this season.

The 49ers have allowed 8.8 receptions per game to wide receivers lined up outside, 31st in the league.

They are allowing 7.5 yards per target (seventh) and a 3.4% touchdown rate (seventh) on those targets.

Regardless of where St. Brown has lined up, he has done the bulk of his damage over the middle of the field.

St. Brown is second in the NFL in receptions (77), second in yards (966), and tied for a league-high seven touchdowns between the numbers this season.

As noted above with Goff, San Francisco has been at their best defending that area of the field compared to the boundaries.

The 49ers have allowed 66.8 receiving yards per game to wide receivers in that area of the field (10th) with a 69.1% reception rate (16th) compared to 80.2 yards per game to wideouts on throws outside (15th) with a 64.3% reception rate (22nd).


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