The top two remaining teams in the NFC will meet in the NFC Championship game on Sunday as the San Francisco 49ers host the Green Bay Packers. The sports betting world is not seeing the Packers as a favorite to make it to the Super Bowl. The 49ers are coming off a 27-10 win over the Vikings, while the Packers held on to take down the Seahawks, 28-23. San Francisco is a 7 ½ point favorite to advance to the Super Bowl.
In week 12, the 49ers trounced the Packers in San Francisco by a score of 37-8. Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 253 yards, hooking up with tight end George Kittle for 129 yards. Raheem Mostert led the team in rushing with 45 yards. The 49ers defense held Aaron Rodgers to 104 yards in the air and Jamaal Williams to 45 yards on the ground as the leading rusher.
San Francisco had the second-best offense in terms of points per game during the regular season at 29.9 per game, while the Packers were a mediocre 15th at 23.5 per contest. The teams were nearly even in terms of points allowed. The 49ers ranked eighth at 19.4 per game and the Packers were right behind them at 19.6 per game.
During the regular season, Garoppolo threw for 3978 yards and 27 touchdowns, but was intercepted 13 times. Kittle was his top target, hauling in 85 passes for 1053 yards and five touchdowns. Wide receiver Deebo Samuels led the wide receivers with 57 receptions for 802 yards.
There is no question the 49ers’ bread and butter was on the ground, led by Mostert and his 772 yards, eight touchdowns, and 5.6 yards per attempt. Matt Breida added 623 yards and 5.1 per carry, and Devin Coleman provided 544 yards.
San Francisco can provide heat on Rodgers with a pass rush led by Arik Armstead (10 sacks) and Nick Bosa (9 sacks). Adding to the team total of 48 sacks is DeForest Buckner (7.5 sacks) and Dee Ford (6.5 sacks). The 49ers also picked off 12 passes and forced 23 fumbles. Kicker Robbie Gould was just 23-of-31, struggling from 50 and beyond, missing all four attempts.
Last week against the Vikings, Garoppolo threw for only 131 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Coleman paced the ground attack with 105 yards and two touchdowns, and Kendrick Bourne scored the only touchdown threw the air. Defensively, the 49ers shut down the pass and held the Vikings to just 21 yards on ten carries.
For the Packers, Aaron Rodgers continues to lead the attack. He threw for 4002 yards and 26 touchdowns, with only four interceptions. His top target was Davante Adams, leading the team with 83 catches for 993 yards despite missing four games. On the ground, Aaron Jones created havoc for defenses, rushing for 1084 yards and 16 touchdowns.
The Packers have a chance in this one if their opportunistic defense can force Garoppolo into an interception or two. Green Bay recorded 41 sacks with Za’Darius Smith (13.5 sacks) and Preston Smith (12 sacks) leading the way. The team has been very opportunistic on defense, recording 17 interceptions during the regular season.
Last week against the Seahawks, Rodgers was on point, throwing for 243 yards and two touchdowns. He connected with Adams with ease most of the day, eight times for 160 yards and two scores. Jones found the end zone twice on the ground and totaled 62 yards on 21 attempts. The key to the game in the end was putting pressure on Russell Wilson, sacking the elusive quarterback five times.
The key to the Packers’ success this week could be putting pressure on Garoppolo and forcing him into mistakes. If the game is close, the Packers have the edge in the kicking game. Mason Crosby has been outstanding this season, connecting on 22-of-24 for the season and 8-of-10 from 40 yards on out.
The game is set to kickoff on Sunday, January 19 at 6:40 PM Eastern Time on FOX.
IF the Packers win, these will be the reasons: Bulaga plays and does what he has done all season, mostly shutting down pass rushers, and the Packers offensive line mostly plays well. The gameplan focuses on Rodgers getting rid of the ball quick, under three seconds, running the ball, spreading the ball around, running bootlegs off of play action, screens, ect. Of course not turning the ball over deep in your territory early is highly preferable too. As Howard said previously, lining someone up over George Kittle and not letting him off the line clean, beat him up. Stick with your formula from all season, force them to attempt field goals rather than score TDs (Gould hasn’t kicked well this season and could see him missing at least one field goal in this game). The pass rush dominates, and be ready for anything on special teams (don’t need a repeat of the 2015 NFC championship against Seattle). IF it is a one score game in the last couple of minutes, I actually really like their chances.
“As Howard said previously, lining someone up over George Kittle and not letting him off the line clean, beat him up.” Reminds me of the ’95 playoff game where Wayne Simmons was tossing Brent Jones around like a rag doll. Steve Young had welts on his head post game from the beating the Packers put on the 9ers that day.
Some additional reading material to take your minds off the upcoming game on Sunday. Some of it is still relevant today it would seem;
Man, some names I haven’t heard in forever. Bernardo Harris lol.
How bout Shaun O’Hare on the DP Show saying the Packers are going to beat the Niners? Whoa,right? Said the Packers pass rush is slightly better then San Frans. Said ZaDarious is the most destructive player in the NFL even over the Bosa brothers. Double whoas! Obviously Dan Patrick was surprised at hearing this factual news and cut him off quickly but at least it made it over the air waves.
Yes, great commentary by the smartest Center in football past. It gets down to giving Rodgers time. Maybe Montravious shows up or MVS actually catches a deep ball???
I can only remember Kevin King dropping 5 INTs, not the 17 actual interceptions. Maybe he will catch one tomorrow. I hope so.