Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Road to New York: 49ers vs. Packers Preview

Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

 

This Sunday at 4:40 PM, the Green Bay Packers will host the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC Wild Card Game. The 49ers vs. Packers matchups have provided us with some intense and intriguing games in recent history, including last year’s playoff game. However, on Sunday evening their previous games will mean absolutely nothing when they face off in their second ‘win or go home’ game in as many years.

This Sunday in Green Bay, the weather forecast predicts that the temperature during the game will be between minus 10 and minus 5 degrees, with a wind chill of minus 30. Perhaps the biggest story of this Sunday’s game will be how the teams manage with these frigid conditions, although the Packers should have the upper hand in this scenario. And the Packers will need every advantage they can get if history repeats itself.

The last two Sundays in which the marquee matchup of the week was the 49ers vs. Packers did not bode well for Green Bay. Mike McCarthy’s crew has had a difficult time containing Colin Kaepernick on both the ground and through the air. When these two teams faced off in the playoffs last year, Kaepernick went 17-31 with 263 yards, 2 TDs, and 1 INT while also racking up 181 rushing yards off 16 carries while also picking up 2 more touchdowns on the ground, including a 56 yard run off a read option that became one of the biggest plays of the 2013 postseason. There is no doubt that Kaepernick tore up the Packers rushing the football in a 45-31 playoff victory.

However, when these two teams faced off in Week 1 this season, Kaepernick rarely ran the football but still managed to pick apart the Green Bay defense. The quarterback sensation completed 27 of 39 passes for 412 yards, 3 TDs, and 0 INTs in a 34-28 victory. The Packers were at a loss for what to do, now having stopped the quarterback from running to only have him dominate them in the passing game. One of the biggest questions for Green Bay going into Sunday’s game has to be how they are going to contain Colin Kaepernick.

While the 49ers might have the Packers beat when they’re on offense, when San Francisco is on defense it might be a

completely different story. Green Bay is one of just three teams to average over 400 yards of total offense per game this year, including 313.6 passing yards per game with Aaron Rodgers on the field. Assuming Rodgers is back at 100% from his collarbone injury, he might have an even easier time picking apart the San Francisco defense due to injuries to CB Carlos Rogers and CB Eric Wright. Usually, Rogers is the team’s #1 corner and Wright typically plays in all the dime packages for San Francisco. However, with Rogers still not practicing due to a hamstring injury and Wright attempting to recover from an injury sustained in practice this week, the 49ers could be seriously hurting at the cornerback position, a position that is crucial against the Packers, who are stacked at the wide receiver position.

Both Rogers and Wright are currently questionable for Sunday’s game, although they aren’t the only team hurting from injury. Clay Matthews is already declared out for the Wild Card Game due to a thumb injury that he has been battling for quite some time. Clay Matthews played a huge role in silencing the run game in the 49ers and Packers Week 1 meeting (8 total tackles, 3 tackles for a loss), and with him off the field Frank Gore should be able to find some open space on the ground, something he was not able to do last meeting.

Fortunately for Green Bay, they have bolstered up their run game since their last meeting, mainly by means of rookie RB Eddie Lacy. Lacy has truly emerged as a phenomenal running back since Week 1, and has helped provide balance to the Packers’ offense. Lacy is the first Green Bay Packer to rush for over 1,000 yards since Ryan Grant in 2009. The Packers offense is one of the best in the league, although the 49ers defense is statistically 5th in the NFL. Both sides of the ball in this matchup should have their hands full, resulting in a crazy and suspenseful game.

Considering all the statistics and momentum and history and even weather, here is the final prediction for Sunday’s game:

SAN FRANCISCO 49ers: 34 GREEN BAY PACKERS: 31

Whatever the outcome turns out to be, the one thing we can be sure about is that the 49ers vs. Packers matchup on Sunday will be a great game.

Tags: Super Bowl XLVIII

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