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Will the Packers’ Cream Rise to the Top Against the 49ers?

For those trying to determine who will win the NFC championship game, my advice is to focus on the skills players, the game changers, the difference makers, the big-play guys – the stars. Once you’ve done that, then next focus on who has the most experience, and who has performed with distinction in big-game situations. The cream usually rises to the top in the postseason.

Green Bay has got the more elite passer – the one just selected again by Pro Bowl voters – the one who’ll be playing in his eighteenth playoff game, not the guy in his second one – the one with the 113.7 passer rating last weekend, not the guy with the 74.7 – the future Hall of Famer, not the backup to a future Hall of Famer – the one who has thrown for 51,647 yards in the NFL, not the guy with 7,077 – the one gunning for his second Lombardi Trophy and second Super Bowl MVP trophy, to match his two NFL MVP trophies – the one with the highest career passer rating in NFL history – the one with the lowest interception rate in NFL history: Aaron Rodgers, is the big-moments guy.

With no need for apologies to George Kittle, Green Bay will have the best receiver on the field: Davante Adams, as he proved once again against Seattle on Sunday.

We’ll have the best running back on the field – the touchdown specialist – the one who’s a threat to go all the way every time he gets the ball – a big-play waiting to happen – and the league-leader in broken tackles: Aaron Jones.

We’ll have the two best tackles on the field, David Bakhtiari and Bryan Bulaga, and the superior 5-man offensive line overall.

Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and WR Davante Adams celebrate together

Dec 15, 2019; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) celebrates with wide receiver Davante Adams (17) following a touchdown during the third quarter against the Chicago Bears at Lambeau Field. Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

On defense, we’ll field the best pressuring pass rusher in the NFL, Za’Darius Smith – and the best pair of pass rushing sackers on the field (and in the league), Za’Darius and Preston Smith (25.5 combined sacks vs. Bosa and Armstead’s 19).

As for cornerbacks, Jaire Alexander might have to wait till next year to surpass Richard Sherman, but I’ll take the cornerback duo of Alexander and Kevin King over Sherman and whoever. Ahkello Witherspoon (who got benched midway through Saturday’s game)? Undrafted K’Waun Williams?

We’ll also have the NFL’s most- or second-most-prolific tackler for three years running: Blake Martinez.

As for who has experience in big-game moments, the 49ers haven’t been to a postseason game since the 2013 season!

Last Sunday the “cream” theory worked out well for the Packers. Rodgers was a different player than he was for much of the regular season. Davante Adams was unstoppable. Za’Darius and Preston put pressure on Russell Wilson throughout the game, and combined for four sacks. The O-line, even without Bryan Bulaga, afforded ample protection for Rodgers.

By game-planning to stop Aaron Jones, the Seahawks defense had some success, but that choice also served to put the outcome in Rodgers’ hands – a dubious strategy at this time of year.

At any rate, we might well see the 49ers again take a run-smothering approach on Sunday. They completely stuffed Dalvin Cook and the Minnesota run game last weekend: after just 10 carries for 21 yards, Minnesota gave up on the run, which in turn aided the SF defense in zeroing in on Cousins, who was then sacked a half-dozen times.

I’m repeating myself, but if LaFleur’s Packers are to avoid a similar fate, Matt needs to get his running backs into more open spaces, at least until they get back to the line of scrimmage. To do this, he will need to keep the defense guessing, with a more creative and varied set of plays – including several sweeps or other runs that go outside the tackles. Spread the field sideways, as well as north and south.

And how about one (or more) of those laterals from the RB back to the QB – and then on to the WR? And while I’m at it, why do teams always stop after one such successful trick play? When a play works like a charm, I’d be inclined to try it a second time at some point – but that’s just me.

Rob Born

Smart drafters don’t select the best available players, they fill a team’s positions of greatest need.



  1. PF4L January 18, 2020

    Well…lol…that does it…..Packers 54…49’ers 3.
    I wish i wouldn’t have chugged some much orange juice this morning, i could have drowned myself in kool-aid :)

    1. DrKnow January 18, 2020

      For me on paper the pack has the better team. Match player for player and tell me how there not better ? The reason is coaching Matt is a solid coach but not as good as KS 9ers. MP has a D loaded with studs but for his Dom C apers inpersonation his D would be top 3. Stay in a true 34 D ! The other X factor is Arod trying to make highlite reels by throwing off his back foot. If he or MP comes up big tommorow GB probbaby wins….

      1. PF4L January 19, 2020

        lol…that there is funny…
        I’ll tell ya what Sparky. How about you go through the rosters, comparing player for player. Take your time but not too much, the game starts in 9 hours 34 minutes and 7 seconds.
        The other X factor is that the last time they played, the 9ers were missing their starting left tackle, Dee Ford, and two other starters, and still beat the Packers 37-8.
        They probbaby won’t get beat by that much this time, but smart money says the 9ers probbaby win again.
        Thanks for participating

  2. Kato January 18, 2020

    Undrafted means nothing. I remember Sam Shields and his huge interception in the NFC championship his rookie year.
    Rodgers has played in three NFC Championship games and has a quarterback rating of 70.5. Rodgers has completed just 57.8% of his 109 passes and thrown more interceptions (five) than touchdowns (four). He will have to play better than that, and I think he will. He has to, or they have zero chance.

    1. PF4L January 18, 2020

      For every Sam Shields, there are 150 UDFA that are now machine operator’s in some factory.

  3. Kato January 18, 2020

    There is no doubt in my mind the 49ers are the better, more talented team. However, the Packers only need to be better for one game. Do the little things right, play smart, if you aren’t going to get to the QB, get your hands up, if a ball carrier is wrapped up, go for the ball. No false starts, don’t just go out of bounds (unless the situation calls for it. ) Do the little things right, and you may just come out of this game going to the game you always dreamed of.

    1. PF4L January 18, 2020

      On any given Sunday….it’s why they play the game. Every team is capable of shitting the bed, some more than others.

  4. PF4L January 18, 2020

    In other entertaining tidbits…….
    If the Packers win the Super Bowl, lets not forget to give thanks to those who made it possible…
    ““I feel like I’m the best player in the draft, defensively and offensively,” Gary said Wednesday during media day at the Michael Johnson Performance Center. “I’m the best player in the draft.

    “The team [that drafts me] is going to get Rashan Gary. I’m a blue-collar worker. Every day, head down, learn the ways of the team, be the best now and be the best for that team and be the best for that state and bring back a Super Bowl wherever I go.” …….Gary, what if you went to Detroit or Minnesota, how do you bring “back” a Super Bowl?
    Defensively and offensively?….huh?
    *Just say no to drugs kids*
    *Crack doesn’t smoke itself*
    In a personal note….WTF was Gute thinking?
    Gute hitting self on head….”i could have had a receiver”
    Heckler: “you could have had 2 if you traded down”

  5. Robster January 18, 2020

    The doctor is in. But first, a confession: for the first time in years, I didn’t watch that first 49ers game in real time – family commitment. Nor have I watched that film since – I’m not a masochist. Therefore, my mind remains undamaged, unlike the half of Packer Nation who are easily diagnosable as suffering from PTSD. These symptoms were apparent two weeks after that trauma, when the Pack traveled to the stadium in Minnesota where they had never won before. How many of you assumed the past would repeat itself? But on December 8 the Packers cleansed themselves of their previous sins. The past does not always foretell the future. Here’s a therapeutic thought: Rodgers has played in over 180 pro games, so why would one dwell on his very worst performance? Do you think the Pack is going to go one for fifteen on third-down plays on Sunday (and that one by Tim Boyle)? To hell with the past – it’s a new day, a new year, a new decade. Embrace the possibilities. Go Pack go!

    1. PF4L January 18, 2020

      Of course this game will be more competitive than the first game, the Packers showing up almost accomplishes that.
      But more importantly, LeFleur has a better idea this time around what he’s facing, why he didn’t the first time, i’m not sure.
      Also, the last game had the worst start imaginable, i doubt it repeat itself.
      Here’s the thing, when a large majority of people (80-90%) think a team will win, it usually does. Most people thought the Packers would beat the Seahawks. Yes, upsets happen.
      Your mind wouldn’t be damaged watching the week 12 game, it would be informed.

  6. Skinny January 18, 2020

    Yes Rob! That’s what im talking about! If you go down the rosters you’re going to be picking more Packer players then Niners. This national narrative the Packers don’t have players is so stupid. They have as much if not better talent at the key positions then the Niners do. Rodgers over Garoppolo, yes. Jones over their RB, yes. Davante over their WR, yes. Bak over their LT, yes. ZaDarious over Bosa, yes. Preston over Dee Ford, yes. KC over their DT, yes. Crosby over their kicker, yes. Im expecting the Packers to win this game.

  7. Ferris January 18, 2020

    House money! And not Devon House. No pressure…99% of the country thinks SF is going to win 45-0.
    SF players talking shit too. Maybe the Kyle Shanahan curse is something…ask Atlanta.

    1. PF4L January 18, 2020

      The Packers playing on house money…no doubt. But they are not the only ones
      Wasn’t San Fran 4-12 in 2018?
      In one season the 9ers went from a point differential of -93, to +169 on one season. That is pretty damn impressive, and probably at or near the top in league history.

      1. PF4L January 18, 2020


  8. NobodysBurfect January 18, 2020

    Lots of people keep talking about A-Rod in the post season – here are his 7 playoff losses (that I remember);

    1) D gave up 45 points 2) D gave up 37 points 3) D gave up 45 points 4) Led game tying drive, never got the ball back 5) Led game tying drive, never got the ball back 6) Led game tying drive, never got the ball back 7) D gave up 44 points

    But yeah, A-Rod in the post season – total liability.

    1. PF4L January 18, 2020

      Those are the same people that don’t think a lack of talent at receiver should have any effect on a QB.

    2. Kato January 18, 2020

      The first one where Rodgers fumbled and was clearly pulled down by his facemask? I thought the Packers always got the calls? That one still pisses me off to this day

      1. Cheese January 18, 2020

        Or how the refs failed to call the blatant offsides on Seattle when Rodgers knew he had free play that ended up being picked off..

  9. Kato January 18, 2020

    Going to apologize now, but I can’t help but wonder if this is the last good chance Rodgers has of reaching another super bowl. It is tough to reach this point, and nothing is guaranteed in the NFL.

    1. Mitch Anthony January 18, 2020

      The one guarantee I give you – Ted Thompson is not the GM. That means there is a better chance of there being, maybe another good chance.

      Now this GM has to hit on the draft picks and FA acquisitions. It got a little better from year one to two but it has to be very good from here on out.

      1. PF4L January 19, 2020

        Gute had a tough job given to him….replenish the talent level that regressed through the Thompson years and do it while Rodgers is still around and has a chance to get to a S B.
        I said before his first draft, he had to hit a lot, and minimize the mistakes, he got a couple draft picks, and signed the Smith brothers, while thinking the receiving room was ok with his 2018 drafted receivers. He’ll be re-thinking that come draft day April 23rd

        1. Kato January 19, 2020

          They need another difference maker on the defensive line as well in my opinion. But that talk can happen after today’s game

      2. Kato January 19, 2020

        Speaking of TT, I wonder how he is doing? The Packers have been very tight lipped and as far as I know he hasn’t made any kind of public appearences. I don’t think he has been to a game this year?

        1. PF4L January 19, 2020

          Don’t know, i just hope he isn’t suffering. I say that not knowing his affliction, but regardless.
          Some were talking about the possibility of him not being able to travel to make it for his induction into the GBP HOF last year. Which to me, is my best guess why it happened as quickly as it did. So if that was the case, i can ‘t see him attending games
          I can’t help but wonder why (and how) his condition is such a secret. Maybe it puts the Packers in a bad light keeping him around as long as they did, idk.

          1. PF4L January 19, 2020

            Kato…it seems odd that he is still listed as an employee and is still getting paid. We all remember the secret 1 year extension Murphy gave about 9 months before he got fired. I wouldn’t exactly be shocked to learn Murphy also gave a secret 1 or 2 year extension to Thompson before firing him.
            As far as i’m concerned, there shouldn’t be any “secret extensions” given to someone on a publicly owned team and that alone should be cause for dismissal.

  10. Howard January 19, 2020

    I have spoken with some people regarding the potential winner of today’s game. I have heard and read several comments regarding the potential winner of today’s game. With only a few exceptions the conclusion by a huge majority is the 49ers are going to beat someone. The Packers apparently have no way of winning this game as the majority of people believe either the 49ers are going to beat the Packers, or the 49ers are going to beat themselves. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.
    I just want to say, no matter if the 49ers beat the Packers or the 49ers beat themselves, this year’s Win ugly Packers team has exceeded my expectations. Good job as a team.
    It is just to bad it will need to end with the 49er’s beating the Packers or themselves, or maybe the Packers can do what they have done most of the season win a close (exciting) game as a team, and do it ugly.

    1. PF4L January 19, 2020

      There ya have it…a realistic look. That is exactly why i said in the newest article that i hope it is competitive, then nobody has to hang their heads. I’m proud of this team this year regardless, BUT….if your going down, go down fighting.

      1. Howard January 19, 2020

        PF4L, how many times have you seen a good team lose badly in a conference championship or super bowl and it takes them a couple of years, or more to overcome a real bad loss? I have seen it many times, as I’m sure you have also noticed over the years. That loss may be a huge blowout or being up big and then blowing the lead by several mistakes.
        No matter the outcome, the Packers if they don’t want to lose momentum for the next year(s) seasons need to make this game competitive to the end, and hopefully win ugly or let the 49ers beat themselves.

        1. PF4L January 19, 2020

          The Seattle SB game against the Patriots. Malcom Butler interception from Russell Wilson. Internally tore the team about over the issue of not running Marshawn Lynch. That was the start of the end of the LOB.

          1. Kato January 19, 2020

            ^good posts