Packers Take on 49ers In San Francisco: Previewon January 9th, 2013 at 12:15 pm
The NFC Divisional Playoff round is upon us and the Green Bay Packers will be right in the thick of the action on Saturday night against the San Francisco 49ers. These teams started their seasons off with a match against each other (which the 49ers won 30-22), and for one of them, this will be their final game of the year as well. The season has been a long grind, and both teams are now quite different in personnel and style. Will the changes result in a different outcome this time around?
As a Packer fan, I sincerely hope yes. The Packers were completely dominated in the first match. Offensively, they couldn’t get much of anything going until late in the game, while running back Cedric Benson was held to just 18 yards on 9 carries. Defensively, the 49ers torched the Packers. Alex Smith threw for 2 touchdowns and over 200 yards while Frank Gore burned the D-line for 112 yards and a touchdown. So why will the Packers be any better off this time around?
The Packers defense has improved remarkably since that day. Plenty of rookies took part in their first ever NFL game, including Casey Hayward, Jerron McMillian, and Nick Perry. Although Perry is on injured reserve, the other rookies have developed throughout their first year and have become solid players. Casey Hayward has had a terrific season, and is a frontrunner for Rookie of the Year with 6 interceptions.
Gore ran well against the Packers in the opening game, and the Packers have not been stellar against the run. However, two games facing Adrian Peterson amounted for roughly 400 yards of rushing against the Packers, and the Packers were able to largely hold Peterson in check last week in the Wildcard game where he was held under 100 yards, quite a feat against the man who broke 2,000 yards this season. In facing Peterson twice in the last two weeks, the Packers have been well tested and facing any other back will be less difficult. Therefore, I think Gore will be reasonably held in check. Also, with Charles Woodson back in the lineup, as a great tackler, the Packers should improve defensively.
The big news for the 49ers is their new starting quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, who will be making his first playoff start. A very talented passer, Kaepernick is quick and hard-throwing. He has played well and been highly regarded for his maturity during his early appearances. However, this will be a truthfully stern test for the player. The playoffs will greatly increase his pressure, and the Packers have a better defense than earlier in the year.
Offensively, the Packers seem to have created something resembling a run game with Dujuan Harris, who has averaged over 4 yards per carry in 5 games this season. Although he will probably not be a huge factor in this game, he merely has to do enough to keep the 49ers defense honest and give Aaron Rodgers the opportunities to make plays. Rodgers is a great player, especially in the playoffs, and he should be the difference in this game. The 49ers do have a powerful defense though, and this could keep the game interesting.
Obviously at this point of the season every team is a contender, and there are no easy games left for anyone. Therefore, predicting a winner or going ahead with full confidence of a win is basically impossible, but I do have faith in this Packers’ team, and I think they will avenge their early season loss by winning 24-20.