They are, together, a surprising 9-1 going into Week 6. Tell people at your favorite sports bar back in August that the Oct. 16 showdown San Francisco-at-Detroit would be the NFL’s premier game among elites, and you’d be laughed into buying another round.
A quick glance at the stats shows how similar they are:
- Points per game: SF 28.4 (seventh in league), Detroit 31.8 (fourth)
- Points Allowed: SF 15.6 (second), Detroit 17.8 (fourth)
- Passing Defense: SF 264.4 (23rd), Detroit 224.4 (12th)
- Turnover Differential: SF plus-10 (second), Detroit plus-7 (t-third)
It is a game that features a Detroit’s high-impact players ready to become household names, such as Calvin Johnson, Ndamukong Suh and Kyle Vanden Bosch. The 49ers counter with Vernon Davis, Frank Gore and Patrick Willis, but this, on paper, appears to be a game in which no one player will have an over-riding impact on the game.
It will require a team-wide effort on the part of either team to prevail, and within that parameter, here are five battles to watch in Sunday’s critical game in Detroit.