NFC Divisional Round
Game time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Venue: Lambeau Field, Green Bay, WI
Where to watch: FOX
Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks
DraftKings: Packers -6; O/U 47
WynnBet: Packers -6.5; O/U 47.5
Caesars: Packers -6.5; O/U 47.5
49ers: 11-7, No. 6 seed
Packers: 13-4, No. 1 seed
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49ers - Packers preview, analysis and prediction
49ers: won 23-17 at Cowboys in Wild Card Round
Welcome to the latest episode of “Conventional Wisdom,” where things should make sense but really don’t because things can change in a week.
As we enter this week’s NFC Divisional Round matchup between the San Francisco 49ers and Green Bay Packers, the home team laying six points in most books is warranted. The Packers are hosting a playoff game in Lambeau Field, in January, where it’s expected to snow on Saturday.
And of course, there’s Aaron Rodgers leading the way with another MVP season after throwing for 4,115 yards, 37 touchdowns and only four interceptions all season. Rodgers became the fifth quarterback ever to record an eighth season of at least 30 touchdown passes. Rodgers led the Packers to a 13-4 season and the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, with Davante Adams putting together a career season of 123 receptions, 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Couple that with a stingy defense that allowed just under 22 points for the season, and there’s no reason to think why the Packers shouldn’t cover and become the first team since 2011-13 to reach the NFC Championship Game for three consecutive seasons.
The team that last did that was their opponents this weekend.
Because while I should have faith in the Packers to make something happen, after watching what the 49ers did last week to the Dallas Cowboys in the Wild Card round last week, I have no idea what to think anymore.
This isn’t to question the 49ers for what they did defensively against one of the top offenses in the league, because that unit is terrifyingly good. It’s how San Francisco just dominated Dallas in all phases; the Cowboys were held to just 307 total yards, Dak Prescott accounted for 254 of those yards through the air on 43 attempts, and was also sacked five times.
The 49ers, who ran the ball for 169 yards and two touchdowns, dominated the ground game over the Cowboys -- they just had 77 yards on 21 carries, while Ezekiel Elliott had just 12 touches.
And despite a lackluster second half, Jimmy Garoppolo outplayed Prescott with a torn ligament in his thumb and a sprained shoulder. Garoppolo threw an interception in the second half, but his 16 of 25 performance for 172 yards was predicated on an overwhelming clean game in the first half.
"Guys just stepping up big in big key situations, that's really what it was all day," Garoppolo said. "Early on, we got it rolling with the offense and the defense just throughout the entire day. We got some dogs on our defense, man. It's fun."
Garoppolo is confirmed to play this weekend despite any slight rumblings that he wouldn’t be ready to go.
But if the 49ers are going to return to the Super Bowl, especially with the Packers on the docket, it’s going to come down to that terrific defense; the same group that knocked off the Los Angeles Rams in a 17-point comeback to clinch a playoff spot in Week 17; the group that held the Cincinnati Bengals to just 23 points in an overtime victory on the road.
It’s going to have to be the group that rallied from 17 down in Week 3 at home and almost upset the Packers on Sunday Night Football. Both teams are very much different since that time. But if there’s a unit that’s built to handle the Packers’ offense in that weather, it’s San Francisco.
But if there’s an offense that can make things happen in that kind of weather, it’s Green Bay’s. This will be the ninth all-time playoff meeting between the Packers and 49ers with some memorable moments along the way. The Catch comes to mind. Colin Kaepernick’s dominance also comes to mind. Those moments immediately come up for San Francisco.
The moments the Packers want to remember is finally getting over the hump and getting back to the Super Bowl. Rodgers is coming up on 10 years since his last encounter with the Lombardi Trophy, having made the conference title game a number of times beforehand.
“I did watch this rivalry growing up,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “This is one of those rivalries up there with Dallas and San Fran on the NFC side and all of our divisional rivalries, obviously us and Chicago, that’s pretty special to the league.”
The Packers were the only team to go undefeated at home this season, and it only seems right with them going 6-1 against the spread as a home favorite this season. In total, the Packers are 7-1 ATS at home this season while 18-9 the past three seasons. Outright, Green Bay is 24-3, with the last loss coming last January against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC title game.
Green Bay is 3-4 ATS in its last seven January games. Meanwhile, the 49ers are 6-0 in the past three seasons in January while 23-14 since 1992.
I have no doubt that the Packers are going to win this game, but it’s not going to be a rout. The 49ers will keep this close because of that defense alone. Garoppolo will need to keep the ball out of his hands and trust Deebo Samuel and Elijah Mitchell to run in the weather. Either way, brace for another classic between these two. Packers by 3
The under is 5-0 in the 49ers' last five road playoff games.
The 49ers are 4-0 ATS in their last four Divisional Round games.
The over is 7-0 in the Packers' last seven playoff games.
The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings in Green Bay.
Passing: Jimmy Garoppolo -- 3,810 yards, 20 TD, 12 INT
Rushing: Elijah Mitchell -- 963 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Deebo Samuel -- 1,405 yards, 6 TD
Defense: Nick Bosa -- 15.5 sacks
Passing: Aaron Rodgers -- 4,115 yards, 37 TD, 4 INT
Rushing: A.J. Dillon -- 803 yards, 5 TD
Receiving: Davante Adams -- 1,553 yards, 11 TD
Defense: Rashan Gary -- 9.5 sacks
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