The Detroit Lions will travel to California to take on the San Francisco 49ers in what will be the premiere matchup of Sunday's slate of games. A few key matchups should decide which team ultimately prevails.
These matchups are the ones to watch in this big NFC contest.
Calvin Johnson vs. Carlos Rogers
Probably the biggest matchup of the game is between Calvin Johnson and the man tasked with covering him, Carlos Rogers.
Realistically, no cornerback can cover Johnson one on one, so the 49ers will probably slide some safety help towards Johnson.
The better Rogers can handle Johnson, though, the better the defense will do as a whole. If Rogers can contain Johnson, the rest of the defense will be able to handle Titus Young, Nate Burleson and Brandon Pettigrew much better.
Johnson, on the other hand, will remain the Lions' top offensive threat. He will get his targets, and what he does with them will go a long way in determining how well the Lions offense performs.
Cliff Avril vs. Anthony Davis
If the Lions want to slow down the 49ers offense, it will start with the pass rush. Cliff Avril in particular has a great chance to pressure the quarterback.
Anthony Davis isn't a bad right tackle by any means, but he rarely faces explosive rushers like Avril. The knock on Davis is a lack of quickness, so Avril can definitely use his explosion to get to Alex Smith.
The Lions will desperately need to rush the passer effectively to stay in this game, and Avril is their best bet to do it. Anthony Davis will need to play at his best to handle him.
Jim Schwartz vs. Jim Harbaugh
This is a slightly more silly matchup than the those of the aforementioned players, but it's no less important.
These coaches don't like each other one bit, so both will have their teams fighting hard to win this game. Both are also fiery leaders who wear their hearts on their sleeves.
Expect more fireworks from both coaches in this game and quite possibly afterwards.
Neither will be thinking about the handshake, but don't think for a second the unpleasantries between these two coaches have subsided. They'll both have their teams fired up and ready to go, guaranteeing an entertaining game.