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Brandon Aiyuk

San Francisco receiver could be headed for a big game

For this weekend, I sure like the look of Brandon Aiyuk. He’s a good receiver, and everything is lining up nicely for him to have a big game.

Deebo Samuel has a shoulder injury. He might not even play, and if he does, it will be at less than full strength and effectiveness. That injury might cause the 49ers to rely on Aiyuk more than usual.

More notably, the 49ers are playing against the worst remaining pass defense. By far. The Lions ranked 29th in pass defense in the regular season, allowing 36-71 more yards per week than any of the other three remaining teams. They also allowed 28 touchdown passes – 8-10 than the other remaining teams.

I haven’t seen anything in the playoffs that indicates the Lions have resolved any of these issues. Puka Nacua ran by Cam Sutton for a long touchdown, and a week later, Mike Evans beat Sutton for a long completion down the same sideline to set up the Bucs at the goal line. I would think there’s a good chance Aiyuk will be screaming past Sutton for a long touchdown in this game.

Below see the chart showing the top 40 games by wide receivers against these defenses this year. Eight of the top 14 games were by players playing against the Lions. In the top 40, Detroit shows up 15 times, compared to 8-9 instances for each of the other teams.

• CeeDee Lamb, Dall.Det.W 20-19171322717.5141.7
• Keenan Allen, LACDet.L 38-41141117515.9240.5
• Justin Jefferson, Det.L 20-30141219216.0137.2
• Puka Nacua, LARat Det.L 23-2410918120.1133.1
Jordan Addison, Min.S.F.W 22-1710712317.6231.3
Puka Nacua, LARS.F.L 23-3020151479.8029.7
Tee Higgins, Cin.Balt.L 24-271288911.1228.9
• Mike Evans, Det.L 23-3112814718.4128.7
• Adam Thielen, Det.L 24-4213111079.7127.7
Michael Wilson, S.F.L 16-35777610.9226.6
• Justin Jefferson, Min.Det.L 24-3010614123.5126.1
Christian Watson, G.B.K.C.W 27-19977110.1226.1
JaMarr Chase, S.F.W 31-17121010010.0126.0
• Tyler Lockett, Det.W 37-31108597.4225.9
Cooper Kupp, LARat Balt.L 31-3710811514.4125.5
George Pickens, Pitt.Balt.W 17-1010613021.7125.0
Keenan Allen, LACBalt.L 10-2016141067.6024.6
DeVonta Smith, Phil.S.F.L 19-421199610.7124.6
Amon-Ra St. Brown, Balt.L 6-3819131027.8023.2
• D.J. Moore, Det.L 26-31979613.7122.6
Zay Flowers, S.F.W 33-19139728.0122.2
Christian Kirk, Jac.K.C.L 9-17141111010.0022.0
• K.J. Osborn, Min.Det.L 24-30759519.0120.5
• Christian Watson, Det.W 29-22759418.8120.4
Jakobi Meyers, L.V.K.C.L 17-31767913.2119.9
A.J. Brown, Phil.S.F.L 19-4213811414.3019.4
Amon-Ra St. Brown, K.C.W 21-20967111.8119.1
Diontae Johnson, Balt.W 17-10548922.3118.9
• D.J. Moore, Chi.Det.W 28-131066811.3118.8
• Romeo Doubs, G.B.Det.L 20-341399510.6018.5
Jordan Addison, Min.K.C.L 20-27966410.7118.4
Josh Palmer, LACat K.C.L 17-317513326.6018.3
Khalil Shakir, Buff.K.C.L 24-2797446.3117.4
Brandon Aiyuk, S.F.Balt.L 19-337611318.8017.3
Tyreek Hill, K.C.L 7-26856212.4117.2
• Brandin Cooks, Dall.Det.W 20-19856012.0117.0
• Chris Olave, N.O.Det.L 28-338511923.8016.9
Michael Pittman, Balt.W 22-19119778.6016.7
Marquise Brown, S.F.L 16-351079613.7016.6
Christian Kirk, Jac.S.F.L 3-3411610417.3016.4

For this weekend’s games, there are two heavily featured wide receivers. Amon-Ra St. Brown and Rashee Rice are catching a ton of balls right now. But with Aiyuk having a more favorable matchup, I think he can be fairly be considered against those guys this weekend.

(And if Deebo ends up being ruled out entirely, Jauan Jennings potentially could be the No. 5 wide receiver on my list for this week – behind Aiyuk, St. Brown, Rice and Zay Flowers, but probably not anyone else).

—Ian Allan

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