The San Francisco 49ers ended the regular season with a big win over the Arizona Cardinals. They come into this NFC Wild Card Game with a 12-4 record having won their last six consecutive games. It was a rough start for San Francisco after opening the season 1-2. Their first game of the year was a big win over Green Bay, and they will try to remain undefeated against the Packers when they are on the road for round two between these NFC heavyweights.
The Packers may not have the best record in the postseason at 8-7-1, but they played almost half the year without their starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers in the lineup. Rodgers was back in action for Green Bay’s regular season finale against the Bears, and he showed no signs of rust throwing for 318 yards with two touchdowns.
Kick-off takes place this Sunday at 4:40 PM ET with television coverage provided by FOX. The oddsmakers have listed the road team 49ers as a 2.5-point favorite over the Packers. The total has been set at 48.5-points.
Why San Francisco Covers
I don’t think San Francisco can count on another career game from Colin Kaepernick in the second meeting of the season between these teams. That means they will be relying heavily on a defense that has played some pretty remarkable football down the stretch. They have allowed over 21 points just one time in their last six games, and just twice in their last 14 games. The 49ers defense has played just as well on the road as they have at home this season. San Francisco is 6-2 in road games with a 7-1 ATS record. They have held opponents to a mere 16.2 points in those games. That should have Green Bay fans pretty nervous coming into this NFC Wild Card Game.
San Francisco is 6-2 in road games with a 7-1 ATS record. They have held opponents to a mere 16.2 points in those games.
San Francisco is not a strong team as far as yardage is concerned, but you have to look beyond offensive yardage numbers to put a real valuation on this team. San Francisco is one of the few teams in the league that gets a big contribution to the offense because of their outstanding defensive play. Many times the 49ers have forced opponents into a three-and-out situation, putting the 49ers on a short field. The bottom line is simple. Regardless of yardage, San Francisco has still managed to score an impressive 26.7 points per game on the road, and that gives them a big advantage over a Packers team averaging just 25.4 points per game at home.
Why Green Bay Covers
The Packers are getting healthy, and the combination of Aaron Rodgers and Randall Cobb make them a very dangerous opponent in the postseason. The two connected on a game-winning touchdown with 38 seconds remaining against the Bears as Green Bay took home an NFC North title. Rodgers showed very little signs of rust after missing almost half the season with a broken collarbone. Even without Rodgers and Cobb in the lineup Green Bay was putting up big offensive numbers, and I think that is a strong indication of just how talented this team is beyond the the quarterback position.
Motivation is rarely an issue in the postseason, but I think the Packers have a little extra to play for after dropping their season opener to San Francisco. The 49ers lack the explosive firepower on offense that Green Bay brings to the table, and that will make it hard for San Francisco to keep pace in this game since they are on the road for this round two showdown. The Packers rank third in the league in total offense, and with Rodgers back in the lineup I can’t see San Francisco’s defense getting enough stops to have the team in position to win in the fourth quarter.
The Packers are 13-1 ATS in home games during the second half of the season versus teams outscoring opponents by six or more points per game.
The Packers defense has earned a reputation for being soft this year, but I think they catch a big break playing host to the 49ers in this game. San Francisco ranks 24th in the league in total offense, and their 323.7 yards per game puts them at a severe disadvantage against a Packers team that has put up over 400 yards of offense per game. The fact that San Francisco has been so poor offensively this year can be blamed squarely on the shoulders of quarterback Colin Kaepernick. This season Kaepernick averages just 185 passing yards per game, and he has added just four touchdowns on the ground for San Francisco. He has eight interceptions and three fumbles this season, and has been sacked 39 times for a loss of 231 yards. I expect to see Green Bay put together some creative blitz packages to keep Kaepernick from torching the secondary like he did in the first meeting between these teams.
The Packers will be hard to beat at home, and I like their chances to pull off an upset in the cold weather against an overrated 49ers team. San Francisco relies too heavily on their defensive abilities to pull off a second win over Green Bay. The Packers had a chance to win in San Francisco in their season opener, and I think they get their revenge in the first round of the NFC playoffs. I have Green Bay winning this game with a 24-21 final score in a game that won’t seem as close as the final score.
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